Inescapable. adjective.unable to be avoided or denied.
Infamy. noun. the state of being well known for some bad quality or deed.
Being asked to participate in a broadcast that airs on CNN is both flattering and fucking scary. Oh, excuse my language. It is VERY fucking scary.
Someone came across my blog. Someone read my blog. Others read my blog. Then I was corresponding with producers and then things got stressful. I thought to myself “someone wants me to talk about my life…on television? That is weird”. Someone wants to interview me about my life with Jeremy? Someone wants me to be on a national broadcast and talk about prison and love and the spaces in between the coils of barbwire and how I survive? That is strange. Why? It’s strange because my life seems normal to me. Nothing to see here, folks. I am desensitized to my own life but it must be curious to outsiders. I must be curious. I must be crazy. I don`t know. What I do know is that I am proud of my writing and I am in love with my own life and all its hurt and joy. I`m not sure I could pull off conveying that on television. I don`t know.
My mom’s first thought about the idea of my participation was that she didn`t want people to say mean things to me. She was genuinely worried about my heart and feelings. The moment my mom spoke those words, I launched into a speech about how I didn`t intend on living my life being scared of what other people thought. But television. Exposure. That is a whole other level outside the safe space of my blog and my control over my content and how I am portrayed. There have been a few people who have made comments on my blog that were hard to read, but there has been more support and love and understanding. That support, love, and understanding has far overshadowed any hard to read comments. But television. Exposure. My face. I`m just not sure. I was never sure, but there was a twinge of excitement over the possibility of speaking of my husband in front of a large audience. There was excitement over translating what I write here out to the world.
Getting support in favor of my participation was an uphill battle from there. None of my husband’s family seemed to think it was a good idea out of care for both myself and my husband. I felt immensely stressed between not wanting to make giant waves and between wanting to help my husband. That is what I care about. I care about helping my husband. I could not care less about actually being on television. I care about bringing my writing to life so that others will understand this love that I fight so hard for. There is a problem, though. That problem is that my husband is an infamous inmate. There it is. It is written. It is true. The person I call my other half is infamous. His face is known. His story is known. There have already been so many articles written, opinions formed, stones thrown. That is the reality, though. My husband is well known. It would be a challenge to sneak by on a t.v. show as unknown and really have people listen to my words and my heart without some sort of backlash. It’s a fine line to walk.
Ultimately, I`ve decided not to participate.
I felt like sharing this on my blog because it is part of my life. It was an opportunity that came up that was incredibly unexpected and gave me a renewed sense of power in my words and how I am expressing myself and my love for my husband on this blog. I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who reads this blog. Whether you agree with my life or not, whether you know my husband or not. Thank you for returning to read about my life again and again. Thank you for your support and love. Thank you to my friends and family who are the most awesome group of people I could ever ask for. They do not judge. They seek to understand. To all the strangers who read this…thank you.
“I had a dream I was touching your face. Not even a dream about sex, but a dream about touching your face. That is how far removed I am from the sense of touch when it comes to you”. I told my husband this over the phone as I placed my cold hand on my warm neck, relishing in the chill that comes from skin on skin touch while talking about a simple, yet so profound, part of life that I am missing out on.
I am fascinated by touch, holding hands, kissing, flush skin and butterfly eyelashes on bare pores and scars. I am fascinated because my sense of touch is in atrophy. My sense of touch and tactile pleasure is in ruins, deteriorating, on a life support machine most days. I know what my heart beat feels like from the inside but not what my husband’s heartbeat feels like from placing my hand on his chest, getting tangled in his chest hair and giving him goose bump flesh electricity. There are so many barriers between our touch. There are so many layers between touch and what we perceive as touch. Layers and layers of clothing, walls, sharp edges, miles, phone wires, words, letters.
I am fulfilled and unfulfilled. I want it all or I want nothing and then I want something in between. I get lost in the moments I’m allowed to hold hands with my love. I am holding onto those moments of veins pulsing through skin and chapped lips. I run my finger over every arm hair and try to remember what my cheek on his neck feels like. I capture it and take it with me. It is a photograph of touch. It is imprinted in between my human skin trifle.That is where the memories of what my husband feels like exist.
When I`m not trying to imprint? The rest of the time? I’m struggling to make sense of my need for tactile interactions and my devotion to my husband. I’m filling my time with substitute sensations of comfort. I am pressing my nose to my cat’s icy wet nose for a rush, I’m hugging coworkers to feed my need for another hit of human connection, I am willingly cutting myself on blades of fuzzy grass, I am remembering what my affair felt like so I can continue to feel human and like I can exist in this skin without the very necessary sensation of unfiltered touch from my husband. I am caught in the folds of my mind’s sheets. I am caught in between what I have and what tangible stand ins I can acquire.
Touch is like a drug for me. It leaves me high and spinning. Lack of it destroys my very fiber. I am waiting for my next opportunity to use, to get lost in it, to surrender and crumble when it’s gone again.
I acquired my beloved Totoya Corolla, Frankie, shortly after my journeys to see Jeremy began. Frankie has over 200,000 miles on her now and a large chunk of those miles have come from driving all over this state to visit my other half. I have driven endless miles through desolate landscape to reach my husband. I have exposed myself to countless journeys on my way to prison and even more so, to the mercy of strangers who were willing to help me along the way. If any of those strangers ever read this: Thank you. You are part of my journey.
There are parts of me left behind in every mile I have ever driven, every hotel I have ever stayed in, every kind person I have met on my journeys. The last 12 years of traveling to and from different prisons across the state has given me the much needed confidence in myself. When I met Jeremy, I didn`t have my driver’s license, I was scared to drive, I was scared to put myself out into the world. My desire to be close to this amazing human being pushed my heart and soul out of its comfort zone and out onto the open road. He is the reason I got my driver’s license. He is the reason I am as independent as I am today. He is the reason I see the truth in every lie and the smile in every heartache. He is the reason this ball of anxiety has been able to connect to so many places and people.
My drive to be with him has taken me the many miles of necessary growth. My dedication to him has taken me to many raw, beautiful places. Physical, emotional, and mental places I could not have accessed without what the years with him have taken me through. My love for this man has led me to discover so many unique and wonderful people, places, and hearts.
There are days when I am at the end of my rope, tired of the struggle. On those days, I see the time passed and I am alone and sad and I feel like my being has been obliterated by the realities of this life. That is when the light of my love shines the brightest. I realize that I have not wasted years of my life at all. I have spent the last 12+ years on a unique life road trip through the desert of discovery. Prison is some strange oasis that houses the person I love most in this world.
At one point I was foolish enough to think that there would be a map that would lead me to the “why” of being in love with someone I cannot access freely right now. I thought there would be a path blazed, an ultimate truth to discover. The guide to being married to someone in prison. Now available for the low price of…it doesn’t exist.
What I have discovered on my little boat in the middle of this blue prison uniform ocean is that no two stories are the same and that prison is an interesting part of the equation. It’s like a threesome with my husband, myself, and the many variables that exist in our lives.
Wait. Stop. Go. I have had to go cautiously and completely bravely forward. Land mines be damned, the only frame of mind that has gotten me to a place of peace with love and life as I know it, is taking it one discovery and one day at a time. There really is no other way if you want to keep your sanity.
You cannot prepare. You cannot assume there will be safety or retreat or a plan. The map to the answers is buried somewhere with the treasure. You just decide to go and you go. I decided to go over a decade ago and I have not stopped. Just because it takes a long time to reach a destination, doesn’t mean that the journey has to be all pain and heartbreak. I have found myself while searching for my map and treasure.
What do you do? What do I do? I accept every phone call from a correctional center that comes through my cellphone, I allow my life to be infiltrated by the smell of steel and pat downs before I kiss my husband. I practice the idea of completely embracing the unknown. I have stopped asking “why”. I now ask “what is next?”, with curiosity over the uncharted territory that is being with the love of my existence, my husband, my prisoner, my prison.
What is next? My distant island that I know is there and whose shore I dream of reaching with my other half.Maybe I’m not certain when we will reach it, but I can feel its warm sand and smell its fresh air and I know we will get there.