Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sixty-Nine Days Until My Release From Taft Federal Prison Camp

I’m in the sixties now, with only 69 more days until my release from prison. I’ve made the most of my time at Taft’s federal prison camp, but I am ready to return home.  Many people have told me that the final weeks and months of a prison term drag slower than the earlier months.  I can confirm that it’s true.

In the beginning, the prisoner lives with the sense of resignation that he must work his way through it.  I remember sitting in a chair, staring at the concrete floor, in the corners and at the joints were the floor met the concrete blocks of the walls.  Tme dragged.  I was lost in thought about what I was missing at home.  Back then, during those initial days, weeks, and months, I felt as if release would never come.

My beloved mother would begin her letters to me with reminders that I had one week down.  Those love notes made it harder.  I knew that her intentions were caring and sweet, though rather than feeling grateful for the weeks or days of prison behind me, I felt as if I were being weighted down by the unfathomable depths of prison ahead.  In time, my prison adjustment eased.  I came to accept that I was inside and that I had the responsibility of making the most of what was ahead.  Exercise helped, then heavy doses of reading and writing.  I wanted to emerge smarter, more fit, better equipped to contribute upon release.  Those were the smooth days of my adjustment, where I floated with a sense of acceptance through the middle of my term.

Now the anxiety of those early weeks has returned.  I’m no longer content to serve my time.  I’m thinking about home.  I’m thinking about where I’m going to live, about eating with a knife and fork, about drinking from a glass rather than plastic.  I’m 34 years old and I’m thinking about a woman.  How can I escape it?  I’ve been living as a monk for more than 300 days!  Some have written that a measure of clarity comes through celibacy, but I stand ready to confirm that abstinence is not all its cracked up to be.

What were the lyrics from that song by Queen?  “I’ve served my sentence, but committed no crime . . .”  In my case, I’m still ashamed to say that I did commit a crime, though I do feel a sense of eagerness, or anticipation, as I crawl back into the light.  Only 69 more sunrises.  I can smell the liberty that awaits me.  I feel it in my pores, a freshness, a new beginning.  It’s invigorating, and I know that it’s coming.  All prisoners must know that their time will come.  When it does, there is a joy in the anticipation, and it feels more beautiful than I have the capability of describing.  Perhaps some day I will know the words, but for now I must write that I’m happy to have moved into the sixties.

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