Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Years in prison and the food was real good.

Have you ever heard the John Prine song, Christmas in Prison"? It's a fabulous song, although not a very happy one. One of my best friends resides in a prison. (Death row no less. Now there's a happy name) Anyway, he says that JP must have done time to be able to write about the inside so well. I always suspected as much, but never having done time myself, there was no real way for me to make that kind of determination. But I'm getting off track. The point I'm making is that despite the name death row, and despite the razor wire, electric fences, and just the general intimidation level of the place, I always have a hell of a great time because I get to hang out with my friend, and that is a blessing for us both.

This new years day I spent with my dear friend, who we shall refer to as LC in the visiting park of the Hotel California. His cell is on the second floor, so we like to call it the Penthouse. That way, we can delightfully have one foot in denial about his real residence. Besides, it sounds nicer. Anyway, the penthouse is only 6x9 I believe. He and the rest of the gang on his wing get to go outside twice a week to exercise, but that's it. The rest of the time it's 6X9. That would drive me totally insane! But not LC. He is one of the most sane people I know.... and kind to boot. You may be thinking, "Uh, why is he on the row if he's such a great guy?" Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to discuss that, so you'll just have to trust me.

Spending any time at all in a prison-- visiting or otherwise, is not something I ever thought I would do, much less write about, or blog about. So...New Years day in the visiting "park" on death row~ Uh, that would not EVEN compute, until a few (ok, 7) short years ago. But now it's as normal as having Christmas day with family. In fact, it is exactly that, only it's new years, not Christmas (this year).

Semi-healthy food is now available in the park, so we're doubly blessed. I mean having an excuse to eat junk food all day was great and everything, but let's face it, these guys eat nasty unhealthy food all week long.. The only shot at having something half way nutritious, tasty and (hot food hot, and cold food cold) is to go to the park on visiting day. It also helps for me not to have acid reflux for days afterward, as I don't eat much fried or junk food normally. So, there we were, happily grazing on salad and using pretzels for croutons, sipping V-8s and OJs, and nibbling popcorn and solving the world's problems as friends will do.

We had a wonderful New Years day filled with great conversation, catch up time, some healthy foods and some junk (great popcorn which I'm sure has about a million trans fat grams per kernel, but what the hell) and lots of laughs. Even the guards seemed a little cheerier, despite the fact that they were working on new years instead of watching football. And as an added bonus, we were able to say happy new year and briefly chat with a few other old friends who were having visits too. (Technically, you're not supposed to talk to other inmates or guests of other inmates, but there's no rule about wishing people a happy new year and maybe a short conversation at the concession line or waiting for a microwave). It's akin to those meetings at the water cooler at work...

I am so happy and grateful to have been able to visit LC as planned. (Demands of life don't always permit) But there's nothing much like sharing some time, some laughs and dreams for the coming year with a friend. Hope you all had a sweet a new years day too, and a great 364 to follow.
Peace & blessing,


Zengoof said...

You make New Year's in the Visiting Park almost sound like a walk in the Park! Seriously, as dreary, gray, and full of misery as prison's are, I'm sure that you and others like you who take the time to forge close bonds with those on the inside, are one helluva gleaming glittering silver lining on that dark and stormy cloud. I do take your point too, though, that you are also enriched. Win-Win! Happy New Year!

Ms. Moon said...

That was lovely, PF. I'm glad you're taking the time to write things down here. You have a lot of thoughts and a lot of experiences to share and I'm looking forward to reading them.

Sal said...

Having made a few visits to death row myself, I've seen how horribly stifling and cruel it can be for someone living in a 6X9 cell.
So, I'm sure your friend absolutely looks forward to your visits.
It'll be interesting to find out a little more about him -- if that's possible.
In fact, 6X9 has an interesting ring to it. Great title for a book.

petit fleur said...

I've been having problems navigating my settings, so I'm not sure if this will work, but here goes.

Thanks for stopping by ya'll and thanks for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it.
xo PF

mookisham said...

Hi PF! Great writing here! I can't wait to read more. Keep up the good work.

petit fleur said...

Hi Mookisham,
Thanks for the encouragement. It's fun, but also a little scary putting yourself out there, so it's nice to get positive feedback, or even interest.

I'm hoping to get some momentum going, so please check back anytime.