“What is like to visit there?” I asked him in a letter.
“Have you ever visited anyone in a mental institution?” he wrote back.
“Wrong thing to tell me. You know I have. Nothing but horrible memories for me”.
“It’s more like a nursing home. Don’t worry. Everything will be just fine.”
John will do what ever he can to ease my anxiety about visiting him in prison.
I had no problem visiting him at the House of Corrections. Been there – done that before.
Besides, the HOC is close – a quick drive after work. Nothing to it. But prison?
Heard terrible stories about there being no windows, just bars. Huge metal gates slamming behind you. Cold. Concrete. I made a commitment. “Yes, I will visit you on the 28th”.
Didn’t sleep well the night before. Kept dreaming about the blank, white envelopes we are using for my nephew’s wedding invitations. The dream – there were no addresses on the envelopes. Well, there is not supposed to be any addresses on the envelopes. They are being hand addressed. .. but they are still blank…they are supposed to be blank…but they are still blank……My mind sometimes….
Perhaps I was being told to go to Oshkosh with an open mind.
Left the house at 6:30 am. Had a lot of anxiety on the drive. Heart beating a mile a minute. Too many thoughts. Calmed down about half way there. I arrived at 7:50 am. Perfect timing. I am the first person there. I was expecting a line. I sign in and I wait. So far prison staff is nice.
As I wait, I think to myself – what door is he going to come thru? There’s so many of them- I have to remember to tell him this & that & that & this – am I going to cry like a baby? Wow, this room is nice. Reminds me of the old union at UWM. Man, this place is really nice – maybe too nice. Nice & clean. Sunny. Nice music playing. Vending machines.
I see a guard get up and open a door. That’s when I see my friend. I see him for the first time since sentencing. I could not stop smiling! I know I got a little teary eyed but I didn’t bawl. He takes me outside where we have the whole garden area to ourselves. And I mean a beautiful garden area. Weather was perfect. Of course I forget to talk about this & that & that & this.
He asks if I’m okay being there. I explain about my morning anxiety and how it has disappeared. Visiting there is so much nicer & easier than the HOC. HOC is nasty.
Had to shower every time I got home from there. Here there is no glass separating you.
No nasty telephone you have to talk thru. Here more than 1 person can visit at time.
Here you get to visit for 2 hours.
My 2 hours go by very quickly.
“Are you going to come again?” he asks.
“Oh God, Yea! This is nothing. I feel comfortable here”
I love you.
I love you too.
I get home and there is a letter from John waiting for me.
I grab something to eat & from my kitchen I can hear an Irish band practicing in the parking lot of the church behind my house. Bagpipes. I’m a sucker for good bagpipes. I’m a sucker for all things Irish.
I put on the Brewers game on the tv, sit on my couch & begin my reply to his letter.
I know I just left you but I forgot to tell you…this & that & that & this…………….