Tag Archives: mylife
Life seems incredibly shaken out of place for me some days and mostly when I have to face down the prison and all of its ridiculousness, I go into auto pilot mode. I know what needs to be done to see my husband and I do it. What bothered me initially, while still annoying, has become some version of normal.
Some version of normal that includes a female guard asking me to “shake out your bra”(reach under your shirt and lift it to the band of your bra, pull the band away from your skin, and shake what your mama gave you. Or didn’t give you, in my case). Then you stand there with your tits out of place or you quite casually reach into your shirt and scoop each breast up, on by one, and adjust them in front of the guard. “Sorry. I’m all out of place now”. Only I’m not sorry but I say it anyway. I`m not fucking sorry at all. I`m fucking angry that I had to shake my bra out again and I`m pissed off that she is asking me to shake my hair that I ‘ve just done. You won’t understand unless you have unruly hair that is hard to tame but easy to love.
This version of normal, my version of normal, also includes buying $4 cheeseburgers made of soy fillers from a machine that often tries to take your $4 without dispensing the fucking soy filler filled cheeseburger, causing you to shake the shit out of that machine until the prize drops. Have you ever shaken a vending machine for any reason at all? Have you shaken one in a room full of prisoners and their visitors? Yeah. I’m determined, so I shake that machine that is 10 times my size and I get that cheeseburger. VICTORY! Then I walk quickly, with my long legs, to the microwave clear across the room, before anyone else can get to it first because ain’t nobody got time to wait 5 minutes for someone else’s burrito or hot pocket or soy filler filled cheeseburger to cook and the other microwave is “out of order”, of course. This whole alternate prison reality is out of order.
I take my alternate reality lessons with me, though, and I have been known to adjust my breasts in my car, at stop lights, if they feel out of place and I’ve, on more than one occasion, helped people on the outside retrieve a stuck vending machine item. You’re fucking welcome.
Skills are skills, yo.
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.
There is a one of those internet memes with an illustrated woman and the caption says “I am not a ride or die chick. I have questions. Where we riding to? Why I gotta die? Can we stop and get food?”.
Cracks me up. Every.Single.Time.
The first time someone referred to me as a “ride or die” and called me “rare”, I was seriously puzzled. You just called me a what huh? After that, I felt like I heard that term in lyrics, saw it on internet memes, and just all around started to get what it meant, or didn`t mean. Sometimes I laugh about the way we refer to loyalty in our society, what constitutes as loyalty(apparently just saying it) and sometimes I laugh at what people mistake loyalty and endurance for. But I digress.
Ride or Die. Or something. I need a snack first. This whole marriage I have needed to stop and get a snack before said “riding or dying” and whatever comes in between. What is it? What is not? I guess it means different things to different people.
I married my husband, my jailbird, my non jailbird, my soulmate, my other half, my “ride or die”, my best friend ever forever, 6 years ago. 6 years ago I was 24, scared shitless, yet not scared at all. I got married in a prison visiting room with no family to witness, no fancy dress, no music, no reception, not even my purse because it wasn’t allowed in the prison. I married this man who had asked me to marry him dozens of times before I said yes finally. “At least I`ll get more tax money” I confessed to him. We laughed.
I thought 6 years ago was a pivotal point in our relationship, after having known each other for many years before. Those years before I got married…they were easy. They were a piece of cake, a piece of pie. The entire concept of “riding or dying” didn`t even begin until I got married and I had no idea where we were riding to. When you start on a path, you’re never quite sure where it’ll take you, but you go, you travel down that path if your heart is so inclined. If you’re brave enough and stupid enough and completely out of your mind set on doing something. You go. You know that later you will pay, and you do, but you go. If it’s important, you go, and if it isn`t, you don`t. Simple.
In life, I seek out the people who might not know the silly term “ride or die”, but those who embody it, embrace it, live it. Those people are rare. Those who are true to themselves, their friendships, and what their heart desires. I have found this in my husband, in family, in a few friendships, and in myself.
Ride or die. Ride and stop for a snack and maybe not die but endure, be free, stay true to those who are true to you, and know who has your back and isn`t afraid to say so.
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.