A cold chill runs the length of my body, fading into my feet, where my toes have already gone numb. The fleece blanket sounded warm by night’s end, but the thin single layer was more of a feel good memento than prevention from hypothermia. Even on a summer night, temperatures often dip below 50°F in the Northwest, and with the prison’s central heating turned off until Fall, this is where dreams end and the longing for sunrise begins.

It’s 5:27am, and the light of a new day begins to pierce my prison cell. My 6×8 concrete box is fitted with two steel encased windows that look custom made for a submarine. One hangs at eye level on the door, and the other decorates the back wall, surrounded by several old coats of peeling off-white paint. It provides a view of the tree line near the edge of the perimeter fence. I’m glad I have a window to look out. It reminds me that there is more to this life than prison. The trees, birds and blue skies take me far from this human warehouse, to a place that represents freedom, and the fulfillment of my hopes and all I have prepared for. I think of a simple house on a piece of land, with trees, animals and a garden, a wife and children of my own, who look at me like I am superman.

My senses begin to come alive as I open my eyes and scan the dim room. I take my ear plugs out to the sound of my fan and the heavy breathing of my roommate on the top bunk. Two steel racks are bolted to the wall, suspended, one above the other, with a thin mat to cushion the long nights. I didn’t notice the blanket slide off to the side at some point before I woke. Did I have any dreams? I can’t remember, but if I did I have a notebook and pen handy at my bedside. In one motion I sit up and swing my legs over the side, sliding my feet into state issued sandals. They’re awful looking, orange and some type of foam composite. I recognize Stacey Adams, but these belong in the Adams Family. At least I support my local economy, because these are MADE IN PRISON.

I sleep in gym shorts and a t-shirt, which is more clothing than I would like, but experience teaches me to maintain a level of readiness. The sandals fit perfectly. Scary! My brain is still foggy as I stretch for the ceiling, reaching for the peace and sanity I will need for the day. I long for the times when these moments are with the woman I will spend my life with, morning breath and all. I’m thankful that I don’t have the aches and pains that other men grumble about. I’m getting older, but I still feel the youth of a young man, and my body still functions at the highest level.

My room is my sanctuary, a temporary relief from the chaos of prison. These next few moments are vital, preparing for the variables beyond my door. I am determined to use my intellect and seek peaceful outcomes to potential conflict. I will navigate this school of criminality, and create a citizens university.

Photo by Emiliano Bar on Unsplash

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