People will always wonder what type of woman I am. They will wonder if I`ve gone mad, if I started this journey mad, if I`m being taking advantage of, if I`m having a crisis, if I`m desperate. They will imagine what I look like before they see me. They will wonder how I talk before they hear me speak. They will wonder if I`m educated or not. They will assume something is fundamentally wrong with me, that I`m stuck in between a fantasy and the prison, right between the entrance and what lies beyond, stuck and unable to see passed the world I`ve created with my husband, with the prison.
Divulging my partial place in this world as the wife of a prisoner has been known to pique curiosity. My favorite part of telling people about my life is their facial expression, as it reveals a thousand thoughts arranging themselves like a map scrambling to come up with a direction to go in.
“I would have never guessed that”, is a usual response. Then the slow, but steady, stream of questions, as they try to figure out what is wrong with me, why I do what I do, how I live the way I do, or the way they assume I do.
Sometimes they ask to see a picture of my husband, or I offer because I`m not ashamed of my life, and again, more stereotypes blown to bits. Before I rifle through my wallet for a photo, they will wonder what the person on the other side of the wall looks like. They will assume. They think the image in their head will transfer to the photo I`m about to pull out.
“That isn`t what I expected” is also a usual response. On more than one occasion, it has been revealed that they expected to see someone Hispanic standing next to me in a photo. They expected someone a beautiful shade of brown, with gangster swagger, maybe tattoos, maybe a facial expression that says “I`m tough and this is my woman”. What they find makes their map of a face rearrange even more. They don`t understand. More assuming. Their internal dialog must be trying to come up with a response that is acceptable to say out loud. I chime in without hesitation, “Yes, he is white. I know you expected brown”. Awkward laughter.
So many assumptions. I delight in confusing people, making them want to know more. I give them a bit at a time and their preconceived ideas about my life fade away and are replaced with curiosity. The judgments are still there, no matter how much others say they aren’t, but I`m okay with that.
After meeting me, after getting to know me, people will wonder what type of person my husband is. They will wonder how he got me to stand by his side for so many years. They will wonder if he is manipulating me, if he talks to me in a way that makes me submit, if I`m scared of him, if I can’t leave. Their wonder about me will transfer to him and they will seek out the wrong in him, aside from the fact that he is in prison. They will wonder if he is fundamentally damaged goods, if he is sorry, if he laughs at stupid jokes like the rest of us, what his voice sounds like. They will wonder why I chose him.