More than month after I wrote my first letter to prison, I woke up on a Saturday morning in late December and checked my mail.
Bills, bills, junk mail … and an envelope with boyish scrawl spelling out the return address. I picked it up, ripped it open, and sat on my bed reading it. It was three pages of legal yellow paper. All handwritten, with misspelled words and half sentences etched out because he made it that far before realizing he wanted to word it a different way. It was reassuring. It was cheeky. It made me laugh on more than one occasion. And most importantly, it was from my friend.
He’s been doing well. He plays baseball in the summer. They win most of their games, and he says that it feels just like playing in high school. He emails me requesting lyrics to songs by the bands we bonded over as teenagers, and sends me caps-locked rants about “WHAT IS GOING ON WITH TIM LINCECUM??”
He’s taking a crocheting class. When he told me that, I almost teased him, until I realized that this class is not for the faint of heart. While I’m buying knitted giraffe hats on Amazon and thinking I’m hot shit for the ONE striped scarf I knitted in college, he’s crocheting his very own panda hats, mittens and all.
Prison seems almost like summer camp. With every letter, every email, I get to delve a little bit further into what his life is now. There is still work, there is still play, there are still family visits. But there is less freedom, and there is certainly more authority. And maybe that’s what he needs – regimented daily life, a structure to fall into.
You wouldn’t think that someone in prison could be happy, but he seems to be. And that makes me happy. Because I’ve never been angry at him for what he did. Instead, I was sad for him, and scared for him, and worried for what his life would be both now and upon his release.
I have still yet to ask the question that’s been on my mind for over a year now. I’m desperate to know how he got involved, and why he did what he did. But I feel that if I’m meant to have that information, I’ll learn it eventually. For now, all I can do is move forward – proceeding with caution, but also with optimism for the future.