Have you heard it said, “you have to be a friend, to have friends”? Happily for me I had friends when I was “deployed” okay okay, sent to Federal Prison! ugh My friends, became my pray warriors and we share life together again! YAY….
When “checking in”, okay okay, surrendering! ugh Nil friends, living with strangers. The world, people, family and friends as I knew had disappeared, vanished. Poof! The rabbits hole had yet, another person, me.
Impaired vision, lack of clarity, “sweaty eyeballs”, okay okay, tears, lots of tears! My first few weeks, I was “that lady”, the one with unfathomable sobbing. Actually I did snivel easily, still do. I’m working on it…(not really)
Alderson Federal Prison Camp houses about 1200 women. (notice I didn’t say “ladies”?…hmmm there’s a reason, just go with it) It’s easy to see the same people over and over, afterwards the meaningless conversation begins.
We didn’t say, “I like your shoes”, duh, we all had the same pair. Or, “I like your pants, the hideous ones”, (mine had an elastic waste, free from constraint…!) (Oh that was funny). LOL
There is an unspoken rule in prison…Do not ask why someone is in prison, or “how long will you be locked up”? If you are a woman, you know the first thing we ask is, “Why are you here”?… next “how long”? Instantaneous bonding. Bam!
Unspoken prison rule #1- delete! I knew more about other’s cases than my own. But, keep this in mind, you can be anyone you want to be in prison. Who would know? Who would really care? I have no earthly idea, if what I was told was true, false, inflated, exaggerated or overestimated….!
One inmate whom I found completely entertaining, was a former mayor, a runway model, (or was she a run away model? kidding) firefighter, real estate investor, competitive barrel rider, well traveled, married to a world class drug lord who was also serving time (whom shared a phenomenal sex life with) and did she say professional Kick Boxer??? I can’t keep it all straight. But she was a mass of strange happenings. Welcome to “who’s who in prison”.
The picnic table was our place to unknot, you have a sofa, we had picnic tables. Sitting hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, etc. after etc., (wake up!)
Becoming familiar with other’s personalities, laughing with them, motivating, encouraging, sharing tears, memories, news events, dreams, remorse, regrets, families, kids, weddings, babies being born, gardening tips, fashion styles, favorite recipes, husbands, (LOL) favorite vacay places, singing old hit songs, skin care secrets, respecting different religions, enjoying languages, races, cultures, teaching English or math, celebrating achievements, losing weight, transforming, walking, praying or staring at the mountains in silent company.
Even though we had our own unique stories, we had something very much in common, prison, an unspoken sense. No words really required.
There is an awareness of sadness and loss, as a Felon I am not permitted to contact other felons. I made it clear to those friends I left behind, not to expect a letter, post card or anything! Our friendship lasted while we experienced prison, now only in heart and memory.
Rejoicing, reuniting and reengaging with my prayer warriors…lasting friends. But there is something about spending time with strangers on a picnic table on steroids.
Please say a quiet prayer for those who are incarcerated, whether holiday season or not. Let them “not forget” how to smile today or tomorrow.
Thank you for reading…Holly (and yes, I have sweaty eyeballs)