1 FRESH OUT
I just did seven years. The look on peoples’ faces when I say that is priceless. 7 years is a long part of someone’s life. People always ask me how it feels, how did I make it through it all, what was it like, if I was raped. I chuckle. The truth and sad reality is, it’s not how people think. Prison shows can generally depict what life in prison is like, but it’s somewhere between crazy as hell and this ain’t so bad. My personal journey oscillated between these two extremes as I moved from facility to facility.
The hardest part of prison is coming home. Once on the inside you get dug in: the routines become the norm, you find your small social circle, you find your walkies, you spend time with dudes you knew from the streets, you beef with your significant other, and you decide whether or not to deal in jailhouse politics and criminal networks. Your time flies and before you know it you’re seeing parole and you get the green light that you’re going home. You get excited, say your final goodbyes and then anxiety sets in. What the fuck am I going to do.
Years spent in prison alter your reality of the real world. Some of us plan, most of us don’t, but it really doesn’t matter. We plan our homecoming and how we’re going to this and that in a way inconsistent with reality. We come home and we’re lost. Everything is completely different. Technology has surpassed our tech-know-how, people are in the full swing of their lives, girls we knew before are grown, have children, are married and have moved on. The feeling of being so behind in life is daunting. As men we suffer in silence, trying to figure it all out. Portraying on the outside the persona that we’ve got this and we’re going to make a way. The weeks fly by faster than you can count and the novelty of your freedom has worn away. Life’s demands are mounting. Bills are due, baby mamas want their checks, kids need sneakers, Uncle Sam wants his taxes, jobs aren’t hiring, parole is restrictive, and thus, hopelessness sets in.
Many of us return to what we know best, not knowing any other way. They lie when they say we’re selfish. They say if we love our families we would not return to prison. It’s a half truth. Deep down inside we want something different. We love our families, our women, our children. In prison we wanted nothing more than to return to them, not the streets and definitely not to prison.
But so many of us return to prison anyway. We failed to readjust. Life moved way too fast and we were robbed of the innate psychological clock to speed up. We get left and lost in the past. We return home, to prison, mad we’re back again, angry at ourselves that we simply weren’t strong enough. That we couldn’t figure it out. That it didn’t go as planned. This becomes our life now. Prison, vacation to the streets to see our family and friends, then back home. We’ve grown accustomed to it. It’s our life, our way of being.
I just did seven years, I’m fresh out, but for how long? Will I go back? When? To be honest, I don’t think about it — but deep down I’ve already accepted it as a possibility. I stuff it in the back of my head as do all those who come home and maintain an aura of normalcy while struggling to figure it all out. Clandestinely fearing that day when I’m once again asked those questions. Fearing to be once again, fresh out.
Written by: MK