February 26, 2015

Sounds of Silence In Federal Prison

Before I “checked in” to the Taft Federal Prison Camp, I put together a list of the things I thought I would miss the most in prison. Now that I have been here in federal prison for a few weeks, I thought it would be interesting to see if I was right.

The title of this blog post should give you a clue regarding the thing I miss the most that I did not anticipate: QUIET! Prison camp is NOT a quiet place. There is definitely a frat house atmosphere much of the time – yelling, laughing – amplified by concrete floors and walls and metal ceilings. It’s harmless, just LOUD. Outside is not much better with soccer games and tennis matches (Monica Seles would be right at home) competing with boom boxes playing mariachi and rap music at the same time. Meditation? Fuhgettaboutit. There is also a “Quiet Room” in our dorm but it’s often used for card games. I miss having a nice quiet afternoon!

There are also a few things that I thought I would miss a lot that I don’t miss that much. I thought I would miss sushi and sashimi and thick juicy steaks. I do, but what I would really kill for is a side order of crisp, applewood smoked bacon, a proper cheeseburger or a nice thin crust pizza. And I really thought I would miss the internet but its actually kind of nice to not be able to look ridiculous things up all the time. I think maybe I was just a tiny bit obsessed with doing that (ya think?). And while I do miss Facebook, I don’t miss that obsessive part of me that felt I would not be in the loop if I didn’t check it 3 (or more) times per day.

Overall though the list was pretty accurate. As expected, what I miss the most is Mr. Ken although I miss him more deeply and in ways that I never could have imagined. As many of you know, we had our first visit this past weekend (thanks Gary and Lisa for bringing him!). It may sound odd but it was both the best day and worst day I have had since I’ve been here. Considering that I had never gone more than two weeks without seeing him over the past 31 years, I can’t describe the joy I felt when I walked through that door and saw him sitting there. The visit was wonderful, easy and fun. But after it was over, I was so incredibly and even painfully sad. It hit me with full force how much I miss him and even though the visits are the best thing that will happen to me here, how woefully inadequate they are in light of the constant interaction, love and support that has become second nature for us. We will do the best we can but we no longer will be able to have that kind of relationship and I don’t have a coping mechanism for that. If you are lucky enough to have a partner with whom you are “all in,” give him or her a big hug and tell them how much it means to you that they are always there when you need them – and when you don’t.

David Applegate

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