The day of my release was a blur. The anticipation of that day made the reality of it hard to process. The state employee driving me and two others was lost in his own thoughts. The other two guys babbled on about mundane topics barely earning my attention. My senses were feasting. It was July and the sights of beautiful straight rows of corn fields, waving grain, and rivers flowing beneath the bridges, along with clean smells and new sights kept my focus. As I arrived home, the businesses seemed different as did the road system entering my small town. Processed for probation, I was fed a dose of harsh talk and browbeating by my new Big Boss Man, my corrections officer. Being very used to that narrative, I smiled and nodded my head. A friend picked me up and we went to a nearby convenience store where I became a kid in a candy store. There were piles of everything at my disposal, but I opted for a fountain Coke, and although I hadn’t smoked in years, I bought a pack because I could. I recognized a toothless girl in line and asked her for a kiss. She beamed and gave me one! Two blocks down the road, my friend stopped again to enter his apartment and fetch a guitar for him and a harmonica for me.
“But what if I forgot how?” I winced.
“Shut up and play.”
As he started playing a blues riff in C., with a tear in my eye, I realized you never forget.
Since that day, life has been a journey. The smell and taste of delicious food, different each day, has made a distant memory of the terrible prison food as well as of my waistline. I desire to spread love to friends, family, and even strangers each day and to fill the void of a life without drugs. The hardest transition so far is the one that everyone is in – social distancing. I want to smile, talk, and hug, but the world is different. I am now financially stable and healthy. What did I gain from prison? I count my blessings now instead of assigning blame or finding fault. I am now a glass-half-full guy who finds his purge from any anxiety encountered by letting my pen hit the paper thanks to the Indiana Prison Writers Workshop.