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Posted by: Elron Mings | 28July2018

A Room of One’s Own: Part II

Greetings world! Over the course of the last two days/nights, I have had the opportunity to enjoy a room of my own… kinda.
Once a month, the transitional house I am staying at allows us (its residents/clients) to take two nights out, in which we have total “freedom” from obligation, minus the expectant cup we must fill upon our return. A small (haha) price to pay for two nights out and about, and worth every moment!
My day(s) out began with me rushing around the “house” like a chicken with my head cut off, checking, re-checking, re-re-checking, and re-re-re-checking to make sure I had all I would want/need with me before I left. I then got on the bus, came to the motel where I’d be staying to check in (they were nice enough to let me check in early so I wouldn’t have to cart my “baggage” with me all over the place ’til later in the day!), and then getting back on the bus (same route, one hour later) to Sac.
There I met up with a wonderful young woman (whom we’ll call “J”) who my Friend Caleb had introduced me to about a week ago, to spend some time together in the city. She met me at the bus stop, and we walked back to her place of residence, where we spent the next hour deciding what we were going to do.
We started by going to one of J’s favorite thrift shops, where she gleefully showed me some of the more interesting pieces of glass-ware she so enjoys, when she got a call from a another Friend (whom we’ll call “C”) who was coming by to visit as well. So we walked back to her place, and met up with C.
From there, it didn’t take us long to decide to go to the river. It was getting hot, and it sounded like a “cool” place to go, and we even took J’s dog Buddy with us.
The three of us connected better and faster than a 5G network! It was amazing! To have so much in common philosophically is a rare, and tanfastic Blessing, one for which I am immensely Grateful! (Of course, Caleb and I have a very Spiritual connection as well, and so it didn’t surprise me that J and I found a similar connection, as Caleb is typically a great judge of character… he’s a natural at it!)
For me, the day was incredible! Such connections, and the ability/opportunity to do so is something I had been severely lacking during the 6 years, 9 months, and 11 days of my incarceration. A treasure for which no monetary amount could ever replace! In today’s fast pace world (as I am learning, and had suspected was becoming the case in my “absence”), we are so caught up in the digital stream that there seems to be less and less time for the quality of relationship building that can ONLY come from face-to-face interaction, being so readily replaced with the tweet, the “share”, the f-book update and like, ad nauseum.
And though I cannot say there wasn’t at least one moment when we all three had our devices out, they were limited, and we spent most of the time together sharing our thoughts/feelings on the minutiae of Life, and our reflections thereupon. It was truly wonderful!!
It is so refreshing, to meet young(er) minds, who though removed by a decade or so, have, hold, and share so many of the same values that are so uncommon in a society that is degradating the very core of relation(ship)s at every turn.
The day together came to a close with some card games back at J’s place, and then my time ran out, and I had to catch the last bus back to Davis and my hotel room.
“My” room. A room of one’s own. Sort of. Though I am in possession of it, it is not “mine”. I’m simply renting it for a couple of nights. But it is private, and quiet. I have not once so much as picked up the TV remote. It has remained off, its blaring advertisements locked safely behind a black screen that will not emit one nano-watt of energy while I reside herein (yes, I am saying light is energy…)! It has been very peaceful, and quite nice enjoying the sound of my own thoughts as opposed to the din of others constantly present. (No offense to those with whom I live/coexist, they are each of them good people!)
I did have a class I had to attend this morning, but the rest of the day has been mine. I even took a nap, something I haven’t done (in private) for a very long time. It has not yet ceased to amaze me, how such simple things can bring such delight! Given my experience(s) of the last “7 years” (it’s just easier to go with the upward “estimate”, for if I get specific, I’ll have to constantly say “the 2444 days in which I was incarcerated”… The estimation is just quicker), I’ve found such joy in so many “simplistic” things! Having/Making time to spend engaged with Friends, the color of the leaves on the tree as the morning sun shines through them,, the sound of “om” as it resonates in the back yard of the “house” as I chant it four times at the start of each new day.
I’m still working on re-developing those “common” habits of old… feeding myself, making time to read, scheduling my time… all things I once took for granted. And even during my incarceration, I did not imagine I would one day have trouble doing them again. Apparently, “7 years” of being told when to eat, sleep, when and what I could do and for how long, and only as long as a C.O. was present and/or nearby, was enough to break the ones I’d developed over a short 36 year lifespan.
Such pleasure(s) to be found in being able to touch/hug people, freely and openly, and of the opposite sex! LOL So many small details, that once made up the whole of me, left at a gate of stone, chain-link fences and concertina wire, and nobody told me I wouldn’t be getting them back as soon as I was released. Are they now still mine to have?? And what of the pieces I’ll never get back?
I used to be able to trace linearly the “me” that I was, to the me that I am… now there is this gap that has no connection point to either end. Though I remember where I was, and know where I am, and even how I got here, too many of those missing “pieces” bear unrecognizable shadows that, though they should have context, just don’t fit, and I don’t know how, or if, they will and can again.
In some regards, I understand (conceptually) that it is the mere passage of time, that elusive substance which none of us own, and are yet irrevocably bound to. It changes us, whether we like it or not, and in the process of reinventing ourselves some things must be relearned. But why, though I remember being able to do so before, are so many things almost foreign now? If I’d simply moved away, I’d still be in the habit of feeding myself. My routine(s) would still be second-nature, instead of a constant struggle.
To be fair, I suppose it is a good thing that I am learning again to be me. I am certainly more dedicated now than I ever thought possible to making every moment count, alone or in the company of others. I don’t believe one can ever value what time we are granted too much.
Before I saw myself as simply unique. Now I am distinctly different! A label has been given me that has no place in the TRUTH of who I am, and yet it is -already- causing judgment against me, a bane to the progress I have always sought, though perhaps not so fervently (I speak presently about “gainful” employment). More than once, construction and its relevant sub-categories of jobs have not only been suggested to me, but implied that that may be -for me- the only thing going! I have no issue with that(those) trade(s), and I do enjoy manual labor, but if it is not what I want to do, why should I have to do it? Because someone else gave me a label I don’t deserve?? What about the fact that I’m willing and wanting to work, to even simply wash dishes, makes me unqualified for the job because of the title “convicted felon”? That is not who I am, but the result of an single act that was done out of compassion, NOT malice. It does not define me, it is merely a subtext of the events that lead to the shaping of who I am.
It is a stone I must carry though, and one that gains more weight with each denial of employment I receive, for a label, not a definition.
Can I honestly say I am “free”, while I continue to be judged and oppressed by a system designed to keep me in thrall to it, so that it will continue to flourish? What sense does that make, and what part of such a system have the words “correction” and “rehabilitation”, if that is not TRULY their goal, nor the result thereof???
And here I sit… alone, in a “room of my own”, in many ways more free than I’ve been in years. And in many others, more imprisoned than I’ve ever been.

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