In early November, the guards woke us up at 5:00 am on a Saturday, to go get our flu shots. This was a pretty smart idea because this many people in a confined area getting sick, could cause an epidemic.
After the flu shot we were all taken to the gym to have our picture taken. Not a mug shot but a portrait that we could send home. This was something they did so that your family and loved ones could see how well you were doing. So I ordered some to mail to my family.
Thinking of home, I realized that it had been three years since I left for the Army. My mom would send pictures of my siblings and it was strange to see them growing up. When you see someone every day you don’t notice the subtle changes that they go through. The pictures that I received made it seem like there were some major transformations happening that I was missing out on.
My brother, Darren, was 19, serving in the Air Force and was stationed at a different base in Germany. My sister, Dana, had just turned 16; she was not the little girl that I remembered. My youngest brother, Daniel, was 13 and had some pretty long hair. He was getting into the skating scene and also looked much older than the 10 year old that I left behind in Germany.
It seemed as if the letters I normally received were slowing down. They were less consistent and becoming more intermittent. It could have been the time of year, but it also could have been that people were moving on with their lives.
One thing was certain, my siblings did not like to write letters. It seemed as if in every letter I sent to my parents, I would say that I hadn’t heard from Darren or I would ask if there were any way they could get the other two to send me a letter. I was really interested in what was going on in their lives.
The blame for their choosing not to write me had to fall on me. During the last few years at home, I had distanced myself from everyone. My reclusive and independent nature had created a self-inflicted rift. It’s understandable that they would not have as much interest in my life since I had not invested in theirs.
These walls did strange things to people. They made me crazy sometime, but only because I had to spend so much time with myself. So I really relied on the letters to help me get through the tougher times.
If left alone without any connection to the world outside, I would feel like I was becoming part of the institution.
The world would shrink down to the size of my cell, and I would be reduced to the size of the thoughts in my mind. Most of the time, this was not a good place. Isolation has several effects, one of which is regret. I could look at it two ways, either I was feeling sorry for myself or God was trying to talk to me.
for the actions that landed me here;
for choosing wrong over right;
for the relationships that I had burned or taken for granted;
for the time wasted that I could have been using for good or something positive;
for not listening to my parents or the people in my life who cared about me;
for not applying myself when I knew my capabilities;
for not stepping up;
for not standing out;
for relying on my own strength and will to navigate life when clearly I had no idea how;
and, most importantly, for not putting God first. This included not allowing the voice of the Holy Spirit to lead me and to guide me when making decisions.
In a place where waiting made me crazy, I received some good news.
My custody elevation from Medium to Minimum Security was supposed to happen around the end of December but was moved up three weeks. Moving out of the wing would be a major upgrade.
I was relieved that at least some things were finally beginning to change. However, I had received no word about my request to change work details from the dining facility to the barbershop.
They would let me know once I moved.