Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine’s Day in Federal Prison

As I sat to write this morning’s blog, I realized that today was Valentine’s Day. This was the holiday for people in love, yet I was alone, as I had been for the past ten months. Living in prison meant living within a community of men, separated from the fairer gender. I missed women, and I missed the emotional connections that could only come through romantic love. Somehow, the Valentine’s holiday made my longing more profound.

In reality, the day was just another of many I had served in prison. The countdown until release was on, as in just over three months, a kind of quasi-freedom would return with my release to the halfway house. On this Valentine’s Day morning, however, all I could think about was the woman who was missing from my life. Where was she?

I realized that I was 34 years old. I had been involved in a few meaningful relationships, though I had never made the full commitment that would allow me to experience the totality, or completeness that comes with marriage. Ironically, while alone, locked in a federal prison, I realized that emptiness weakened my life because I did not have, or even yet know, the woman to whom I would give all of my love.

The last time this feeling of wanting came over me was on New Year’s Eve, only 45 days ago. It seemed as if an eternity had passed since then. I suppose the changing of the New Year compiled with my having advanced to within only double-digit days until my release, enhanced the anticipation of home. Yet as I was writing this morning’s blog entry, I realized that if I were released today, I would not have a woman with whom I could share the passions and desires and longings I had been suppressing through so many months of solitude. That was a sobering thought, reminding me once again that I was a prisoner.

I tried to assuage the loneliness by fantasizing over how I would celebrate Valentine’s Day if I knew the identity of the woman with whom I would share my life. The imaginations could only carry me so far. I was alone in a concrete shell of a room, but more than one hundred men were in close quarters around me. I knew that I would have to pull myself through the feelings of being alone. It was just one more day on my journey home. Some days were more difficult than others. Yet I had powered through 300 days already, and I had fewer than 94 full days to go.

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