I’m falling in love. I can feel it. Falling deep into love. With Maryann. Beautiful Maryann.

Each morning I wake up in a swoon, with a tingle in my fingertips and a stirring of my loins. Wake up to her smile, her kind words. What a beautiful day, she says, enjoy the sunrise, take care. Wake up giddy. Wake up happy. But also frustrated and full of despair.

Ahh, the contradictions of love. Despite the fact that that she’s not quite right for me, there’s nothing I can do. The feelings are just too strong.

But in my case the highs are higher and the lows are lower. Higher and lower even than teenage puppy love. Because this love, though intense, is a one-sided affair. A love in which I love Maryann more than she loves me. It is also a love that makes me realize, like nothing else, that I’ve been in prison too long.

No, Maryann is not a figment of my imagination, a hallucination caused by desperation. She is a real, live woman. It’s just she does not know I exist. Nor will she ever. This love of mine is doomed to remain unrequited. Because Maryann, oh beautiful Maryann, is the weather woman on local TV.

I know this may sound desperate. I know this may sound strange. Hence the angst and shame beyond the usual professions of love. But Maryann is oh so fine. Each morning, I open my eyes to her bright eyes and bright smile and bright prom-style dresses, beaming brightly from the TV over my bunk. Maryann. Looking at me in all her glory. Smiling. Beckoning. Dress light, she says. It’s going to be a hot one. Or, watch out for the fog.

So close I could almost touch her. So close. Yet so far.

And really, it’s all just a fantasy. A harmless, silly fantasy; not even love at all. A fantasy caused by a 50-month exile into this strange, female-free world of men, men and more men. The truth is, though I tolerate it, this world, I really don’t like it. Not at all. Women ad the zest to life, the yin to men’s yang. Truth is, I miss women. Badly. For me, a world without women is not a world at all. It’s nothing but a pale imitation of the colorful, perfumed world outside these doors.

And it’s not just about the X-rated; my mind has not descended into the gutter. It’s about the sensibility, the smile, the smarts. The lack of testosterone. A different way of looking at the world. All these qualities so absent in this prison world full of men, men, men. Plus, on top of all that, Maryann is a connection, however tenuous. A connection not only to the fairer sex (or a fantasy thereof) but a connection to the outside world, a world of traffic jams and rescue animals and iPhone snapshots of beautiful sunsets. A world of a kind, caring woman, bidding me good morning and wishing me a happy day.

So, Maryann, from your secret admirer, a message: keep up the good work. You have many fans in prison. Whenever I see the fog roll in, or a beautiful sunset, or hear the wind in the pines atop the hill, I’ll be thinking of you, my sun, my wind, my breath of fresh air.

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