When my oldest son and I talk, he frequently reminds me there are only two dates that matter...the day you go to prison and the day you come home. As my time as a guest of our government come to an end, I anticipated all kind of feelings and reactions. As I played it in my head, it would be a time of great celebration...an explosion of freedom...a cornucopia of foods missed over the years...a welcome home party of epic proportions...a moment of unrequited joy for my family and for me. Reality, as is usually the case, is far more messy and complicated.
I haven't been writing as much as in the past and I was perplexed as to why. Midterm elections and the control for Congress are up for grabs in November. Russia has invaded Ukraine. ISIS continues to roil Syria and Iraq committing unspeakable crimes against innocent men, women and children. (The same chicken hawks that lied us into Afghanistan and Iraq now want us to do it all over again.) A new report confirms the top 1% are vastly richer today then in 2010 or before. Every cell phone call we make is being monitored by the government and mysterious cell towers are appearing all over the country and no one seems to know who owns them or what purpose they serve, but the suspicions are ominous. All of these items should be grist for my mill and yet my pen lays silent. Why?
It dawned on me the answer may lie in the fact I have a little more than three months left before I go home. Since I have already served over 72 months, 3 ought to be a walk in the park. The next 3 months should be a joy-filled, smile-inducing, countdown to an event worthy of an epic party. It's known as being," short to the door" in here and most of those in my housing unit would be thrilled to switch places with me and have such a short time left. For me, not so much.
Please don't misunderstand. I don't want to spend one more day in here than necessary. I take full responsibility for the actions which put me in here and once again offer an apology to anyone I have offended, but will always bristle at a sentence which in no way reflects or was commensurate to the crime committed. However, as the door approaches, my fantasy about going home has run smack dab into reality.
The reality of going home has caused a whirlwind of thoughts and concerns and more than one sleepless night. For over 6 years my job has been to survive. My obligation has been to make it day to day and to do the work necessary to fulfill my promise to my wife to come home healthier and better than I left. Dealing with bills and jobs and children and an economic disaster of historic scope was the responsibility of my wife and family and you.
Responding to, and caring for, my son's cancer, my wife's health emergency, my daughter's pulmonary embolisms, my brother's heart crisis, my sister-in-laws fight with cancer, my sister's neighborhood in San Bruno destroyed by a natural gas explosion and the harm to her family, my son's loss of sight and much more, which all occurred while I have been here in exile, fell to others and all I had to do was worry and pray and hope they could handle it all.
In a little more than 3 months, the weight and reality of the world will slam squarely back down on my shoulders and there will be many people with expectations for me and the life they will expect me to begin to live. What about earning a living? How do you re-introduce yourself to your wife after 6 plus years in which she has had to be the bread winner and family glue...6 years where she had to face fear and loneliness and terror by herself with no shoulder to lean on and no partner...6 years of anger about how she was let down and betrayed and disappointed by a man she married. I've missed six years of my children's lives as well as the fact that all of my family has been embarrassed and humiliated publicly by my actions.
When I come home, do I fade away into the ether, slink away silently into the night and hope people forget what I did? What job or jobs will I be allowed to hold and will anyone hire an ex-felon with my crime? Will society allow a second chance or a shot at redemption and even if it does, how does one go about securing such outcomes? Is there a media company out there which would be willing to endure the heat and controversy which would be associated with hiring me? (although I guarantee the shows would be electric and dynamic and entertaining as hell from a host who is chastened and humbled with so much to say) All of this and more has crowded into my head and now I can't stop thinking and wondering and speculating and it seems to be crowding out everything else.
I find myself obsessed with two concerns. First, I want to be in physically as good a condition as possible. This means taking a very disciplined approach to exercise every day without fail as well as a focus on what I'm eating, and not eating, to get down to as good a weight as possible. Second, approaching the door forces me to assess me and to make sure any progress I have made turning myself around...progress getting pride and ego under control...progress in understanding how my actions affect others...progress in walking out the door a better husband and father and friend...progress in my relationship to a God who gave me so many talents and gifts and now wonders if She may have made a mistake...that I can bring all of this with me back to a world which will try to distract me and derail me and tempt me and fool me if I let it.
I cannot promise this mental quagmire or thought storm makes as much sense as would overarching joy at coming home...getting away from this dysfunctional system designed to encourage recidivists not deter them...spending these last months planning the huge welcome home party. I could be writing this to an audience of one, but I wanted to articulate to you why my production has slipped and why I am not as motivated right now to write about Obama et.al. I apologize for the naval gazing but it seems to be increasing as the days drop away.
There is much more to write. There is more to say. I have learned so much and want to pass it on. Please bear with me over these last few months as I try to sort through all these feelings and questions. We have all been on this journey together and I owe so many of you, and especially the minders of this site, for your friendship and support over these six plus years. I have used this space to think and explore and to reveal to you what has been going on with me along this path. We have some more roads to travel together I believe.