Monthly Archives: October 2015

Prison paper planes

I’ve been dreaming of Ely state prison again, but even more so I`ve been dreaming of Ely, Nevada. Whenever I am feeling lost, I tend to dream about this place and I`m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s because that prison, that place, that space in time, is where I fell in love with Jeremy so many years ago and it will be forever ingrained in my memory as a place that I loathe and love all at the same time. That time has stained me forever. The story has stained me. This strange prison love  story that I didn’t really expect, but that I wouldn`t trade for anything.

It’s been almost 9 months since I’ve traveled to that place but I`m dreaming of it now. I`m dreaming of the small hotels there, the prison front desk, the fluorescent lights, and him. Him as a 25 year old kid, thin and handsome and beautiful and I want to throw up and fall into his arms. This kid, this man, this person that has taken my entire life, shaken it out of place, and has rearranged the pieces in such a way that I want to leave at times, but can’t. Not because I couldn`t forge some semblance of a life without him and the prison, but because sometimes fate takes us through the darkest hours just before the sun rises.

I`m dreaming that he is in a car with me and we are driving and laughing. I am dreaming of the first time we visited and he asked if he could kiss me and I said no and he smiled and retreated and said he was in love with me. In 2 weeks we will have been married for 6 years. 6 years is nothing compared to all the years we had before, but it is a milestone nonetheless. When I tell people I have known my husband for half my life and it has been all in prison, they are astounded. This is my life. It is normal. It is not normal. It has everything I need and more. It has everything I don`t need.

“Want to hear some funny prison life shit?”, he asks.

“Ummm not if it’s gross, no”. *nervous laughter*

He laughs and says “No, it’s not. There are three prisoners, three grown men, all playing with a paper plane”.

We both laugh and I sort of want to cry. Life. This life. So normal, so strange.

I`m dreaming of Ely, a town I would have never heard of if not for this inmate I wrote to 15 years ago. I am dreaming of our time together and paper planes.

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Journeying beyond joy

Joy. Happiness. Lightness. We want it. I want it. When I have it, I think I am made. I think life is made. I am blinded by some brightness that I’ve convinced myself I live in.

Then something happens, a lot of things happen. Reality, loneliness, injury. No one wants that stuff but it happens. It is happening and I am frustrated and grateful and frustrated.
No matter how much you plan life, life does not care. Life will give you what you need, not what you want sometimes. I have learned. Yes, I have learned this the hard way, the easy way, and now the hard way again. Repeat, new chapter, repeat, old chapter. Repeat. This is life.
Being married to someone who is here but never here, who is free to love but not on their own schedule, will teach you some life lessons. Life lessons that hurt and that you also want to coat yourself in. I am coated and I am trying to understand and accept yet resist and persist. You will try to make everything okay over and over again until you realize they are not okay and that becomes strangely comforting. It’s ok not to be ok and it’s a sick feeling but it’s a real feeling. Hold on tight. This is being alive.
Defeat. No one wants it but it is the most necessary part of existence at times.  Not forever defeat, but a small slice of it every now and then. I feel it. I loathe it. I love it. Defeat is rest and reset. Just a little bit. Just enough but not too much. These lessons are life and they hurt and I don’t know what I would do without them.
He isn’t here. My mood is up and down over the phone lines but he rides the waves like some skilled surfer braving a vicious storm.
 I am injured physically and irritated by this. I am injured emotionally and not irritated by this. Life is on the brink of changing and I am injured and helpless and powerful and independent and totally alone and crowded and scared and fearless. Everything hurts and I`m dying. Everything is fine. Messed up is fine.
We want joy but sometimes we get ended friendships and a lover that is actually in a prison. Actually not able to be with you.
We want joy but sometimes we get a heart that was born broken and knees that are injured with soreness and self pity. We want joy but there is a journey beyond joy that is far more valuable and truthful than what joy could ever give us.

So, what does your husband do for a living?

I’m training new hires at work and we are at the whole “getting to know eachother” stage, in between tasks.
“So, what does your husband do for a living?”, my trainee Lisa asked me when she had moment.
“My husband? Oh he’s in prison”.
Just like that. “Yep”.
Silence. Whispered apologies flew freely from her mouth and I tilted my head back and laughed. I am not offended, I tell her not to apologize, and the questions begin to fire in rapid succession.
My other newly trained co-worker stands up from over our cubicle work wall, our daily division, and says “what?!”. She laughs a nervous laugh.More questions, now from two women I barely know, are moving into my mind space and I am answering without hesitation.
“Wait, what?!”. “When did you meet?”. “How did you meet?”. “How long have you been married?”. “Can you kiss him?”.
Story telling time. Work phone calls. Story telling. I keep saying “I know. I have quite a story”, and the questions continue. Somewhere over another cubicle divider I hear my other coworker say “your life is like a miniseries, not a story”. Collective laughter.
“What does your mom think about this?”. “What do his parents think about this?”.
“That must be some next level true love right there”.
Sex jokes, laughing, sheer curiosity. I am distanced but I also want to hug these women for some reason. I am received well. My story, excuse me, “miniseries”, is received well.
They settle. They give me weird but empathetic looks. One calls me wild and lovable and the other, who overheard my conversation with my husband on my cellphone, says I am really nice to him but it’s only because I haven’t lived with him. I laugh.
These curious outsiders have a glimpse into my life and I am okay with it after. I don’t feel invaded but I feel satisfied that I have given enough but not too much.
 I should have just said he worked for the prison but my mouth rarely has a chance to connect to my brain before it lets loose the truth.
Lisa leans in and tells me her girlfriend met a guy in prison who spent more than 20 years locked up. He is out now and her girlfriend is marrying this guy and she is really happy. She smiles this deep, warm, motherly smile. She pats my shoulder and we move onto the next work task.

business man with handcuffs


Luck

Don’t you know luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity?

I didn`t know this. I don`t know this. My husband knows this and he tells me over and over again. I`m not sure I can quite get on that ride yet. One foot wants to stay on the ground but I don`t want to be dragged either. Being the wife of someone incarcerated affords me unlimited cynicism at times and even more depression than I could possibly handle on any given day. I`m also quite frequently on auto pilot. I just go and go and go and then have a meltdown. Repeat.

The notion of throwing all of my cynicism up in the air like fuck you confetti is scary and exciting and I want to believe that life could work, that love could work. How do I let go? I`m not sure. I`m trying.

The prison, this marriage, my love, has seared my core in a way that will scar forever. The sounds horrible and really I say that in the most beautifully horrific way I possibly can. This life with Jeremy has taught me a great deal about life, love, people, the human spirit, and myself. I would not be the person I am without the peace of knowing I am tethered to another soul and the hell of knowing that he is tethered to a place of hopelessness. But there is hope. I’ve refused to let myself believe it for so long. I’ve allowed myself to become incredibly jaded by circumstances and visiting and expensive phone calls and separation and crying over not getting a “normal” life like everyone else.

It’s easy to do that when you’ve exposed yourself to hopelessness for an extended period of  time. It’s easy to become jaded when you’ve become content with hopelessness, when you’ve decided to invite giving up into your bed and into your brain. Time will do that to a person. Is there anyone out there who understands me? Can you relate? Do you hear me? Can we stop inviting giving up and hopelessness into our lives? Can we at least try?

For the first time in a long time, even though I`m in a dark tunnel I cannot see out of, I feel a small spark of shifting climate in myself and in the world. I feel like freedom, literally and metaphorically is so fucking possible. I am opening myself up to possibility, to dreams, to hope and it is terrifying. Fear will take you hostage and make you feel like it is all there will ever be. I am a hostage trying to escape.

How do you trust the person whose hand you cannot hold? You hold your own hand. How do you trust the person who is your mirror but has no idea what your hair smells like when you wake up in the morning? You believe that they just know…and you smell your own hair. You are one. You and this person. Believing is a weird bridge that ties everything together in the most unexpected, painful, and unlikely way.

Preparation. Opportunity. Is that luck? Maybe, but if I don`t stay receptive, I`ll never know.

wishing_you_luck