It’s now six in the evening on New Year’s eve, 2008, and I’m still here in the Taft Prison Camp. Although I have more than eight months of my prison term behind me, and fewer than five months of prison ahead of me, I’m feeling a little bit alone.

These feelings of separation will not last, I know. I’ve been maintaining a formidable schedule the past few months and it will continue before dawn tomorrow. The release date is rapidly approaching, and I have a lot on my mind. I must prepare for the obstacles that I expect to face upon release. With the immediacy of a sledgehammer to the head, I will feel the blunt force of pressure as soon as I leave prison behind. Once I return home, I won’t have the peace or freedom that I’ve come to know and appreciate. There won’t be nearly as much time for contemplation or introspection. Once home, I expect to struggle through the same pressures that interfere with the peace of millions. The preparations I have made during my imprisonment, and that I will continue to make, ought to help. Tomorrow, on the first day of 2009, I will resume those preparations with gusto.

This evening, however, is New Year’s eve. It is a time of celebration around the world. People are enjoying festivities, many in black tie and gowns. They are sipping champagne and enjoying meals in their favorite restaurants. They are making plans and setting goals. I want to feel as if I’m part of that human experience. I want to celebrate this moment with the touch of a woman. Yet, I am coming to the end of my 33rd year, and I am locked in a community of men, without even a woman in my life to call my own.

In only a few hours, couples will be whispering promises of love and devotion. Although I have been incarcerated for a relatively brief time, I long for that connection to a woman. What will it be like to touch that soft skin again?

More specifically, I wonder about the woman with whom I will share my life. I do not know who she is and I do not know how she is celebrating this New Year’s eve. Perhaps it would be better if I didn’t know what she is doing this evening, while I wait alone, submerged in thoughts of her. Someday we will celebrate New Year’s eve together. But not tonight. Who knows? Maybe this isolation I feel is good for the development of my soul. By thinking about this woman who will one day become my wife, I may be strengthening my ability to appreciate her more. Instead of New Year’s eve coming only once a year, my longing for her will help ensure that I bring such celebrations into our lives each night. I do not know her, but I miss her. I long for her. I look forward to feeling the breath of her words, to watching the gracefulness of her movements. I want to dance with her, to listen to her, to know her in every sense of that word. I may feel alone on this New Year’s eve, but I take some comfort in knowing that our day will come.

These are the thoughts carrying me through this evening. I’ll be in bed early, before eight. The thoughts and hopes of love will keep me warm and carry me through the night. They must, as tomorrow morning at five, my preparations resume.

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