They sat us next to the vending machines again, but at least not next to the crying baby couple. Winning! Right in the middle of our visit, I looked at my husband and I said “If it wasn’t you I would not be doing this. I wouldn`t wish this for anyone. My heart hurts today”. Heart exploding joy and heartache exist simultaneously for me, especially in the presence of my lover, right there in the middle of that visiting room. There is no better time to be raw.
He is so understanding. He looked right at me and asked if he should be an asshole to me so I could have an excuse to leave. We laugh. We have had this conversation so many times and I have continued to return 12 years after my first visit for at least one more silly joke about how we should divorce and who is going to get what. If it wasn’t him, there would be no visiting, no staying, no decade plus long sacrifice of my life.
When you first meet someone, you have a honeymoon period. Everything is wonderful, the person is amazing beyond compare, prison seems totally manageable and effortless once you get into the groove of it all. You are a star-crossed lover but instead of Verona you are saying your goodbyes and making your promises through a series of metal doors, barbed wire, and an insane thought that maybe you might get shot by a guard tower gun sometime(I have strange, paranoid thoughts). This is your life. If your other half has a lengthy sentence, this is your sentence as well. You are committing to a person who has to abide by the rules and in turn, so do you. The honeymoon period will end and you might be looking in the mirror 10 years later wondering where the time went, looking back at how you spent your time, how you were able to love.
“I wouldn’t wish this for anyone”. Unless they are helping more than they are hurting, unless there is more respect than there is sacrifice, more honesty than anything else….I would run. I would run because I had the freedom to. I would run because I knew that life existed outside of prison walls and unless what you have will sustain your mind, body, and soul, it will shatter you.
They say love is blind, that our feelings pull the covers over our eyes and allow us to look at someone like they are magic, like they can do no wrong. Sure, at first I was entranced by the newness and seemingly out of place relationship my husband and I had created together. As the years passed, the novelty of a prison romance wore off and what was left was two people who had completely taken off their masks, had offered their flaws on a platter for the other to feast on or keep safe, and two people whose honesty has moved them passed the honeymoon stage and onto the stage of life.