I want to introduce you to a sister blogger. Her name is Rara and her blog is Rarasaur (http://rarasaur.wordpress.com/). I started following her marvelous writing last year and have continued during her serious legal issues and now her incarceration for a white collar crime. Her husband, Grayson Queen, manages her blog and posts when he gets something from Rara.
This one, and the one that follows, touched my heart. Rara is a good person and is dealing with an enormity in her life that most of us could not face with her spirit and equanimity. She wants her posts to be shared, and I hope you see what I see.
Originally written 08/05/14
On days like this, I miss the moon. She’s been my personal guide for as long as I can remember.
In my youth, my small hands would pretend to hold her. I’d sit by the windows—palms bowled together—and whisper my secrets into her light. As a teenager, I’d hunch in the backseat of cars, silently sharing all my thoughts with the bright orb as she followed me down long highways and gravel roads. She has always had a way of magnifying my gratitude and shining perspective on my strife. “It is what it is,” she would smile to me, until her light becomes mine, and my fears become triumphs.
They took away my moon, and today, I miss her more than ever.
I am disappointed because change didn’t come when I called for it. I planned, and waited, but change didn’t show up. Now I feel stuck—tarred by the moment, feathered by the idiocy of the idea that I had any control of fortuna’s wheel. I feel more trapped by circumstance than when they put me in a cell, and more paused than when they took away time itself. I can see the next part of my journey, but the road from here to there is gated, and until that gate opens, I can do nothing but wait. Plans are meaningless to change, as is disappointment. Change moves as, and when it wants and does not care.
My moon would care, though. If I could see her, and whisper the secret of my heart to her, she would soothe it. She would light my journey with her warm glow, and it would remind me of the sanctity of this present moment. She would remind me that planning for change is a skill, waiting patiently for it is a virtue, but embracing the moment is a joy. My moon would urge me to see joy. She would show me that joy was scattered at my feet while I clutched at disappointment—like a little girl crying over a chunk of coal while sitting in a pool of diamonds. In time, that coal will sparkle as brightly, but there is no sense in lamenting over what it is today. It simply is what it is.
In my mind, I know all this—but the seed of rational thought only seem to survive the tangles of hurt and fear in my head when they are allowed to bask in moonlight. I feel the comfort struggling to make itself known as I lay on my bunk, staring at the cold cement walls.
Then, one of the girls in my room disrupts my thoughts. She is as trapped as I am, and so we are sisters of fate. She asks someone if they want to learn to say something in Spanish, and when the other girl agrees, I smile because I know what’s coming.
“Spell socks,” she says.
Anticipating a practical joke, the would-be Spanish speaker hesitantly says, “S.O.C.K.S?” And we all laugh. It sounds like, Eso si que es. In Spanish, she has said, “It is what it is.”
And there, in the warmth of laughter, the sparkle of wit and the light of sisterhood—I see my moon. Even in here, where I am locked away from the most celestial of sights, she has found a way to lend me her insights. Tomorrow, I might find myself sobbing over coal, but tonight—tonight I will laugh at the wonder of its mere existence, and give gratitude to the diamonds who laugh and sparkle in the bunks around me. Tonight, I will sleep peacefully because, though I have no control of fate, I am not alone.
I am surrounded by sisters, and my moon is still following me—healing my hurt—shining her light through them, into me.
Dedicated to: Silvia Velez and Alissa Sandoval.
DREAM CATCHING AT 11,000
Originally written 08/25/14
In two days—August 27th, 2014—I will turn the big three-oh in the “Big House”—California’s largest state correctional facility for women. I arrived just a week ago and am sitting pretty in receiving, what we colloquially call “A-Yard.”
A-Yard is a resting and distribution center, like a train station—filled with women waiting to go somewhere else, smiling uncertainly at each other because the future holds such extreme possibilities in regards to the relationships here. We all know it’s possible that you will never see the woman next to you again. It’s equally possible that you will share—in close proximity and neon orange Technicolor—one of the most memorable experiences of your life with her. Like a train station, it is constantly bustling here. It is saturated with hellos, goodbyes, and the commotion of people trying to live life in a limited amount of time and space. We have tickets, but we call them ducats. We have porters and bright flashing lights that tell the more observant amongst us if everything is running on schedule. Though, of course, it’s not. Like trains, prisons are charmingly—woefully—stuck in the past. The slow-churning relics answer to no one and make no apologies for their pace. There’s no reason they should. After all, it is their very nature.
Today, I understand true natures in a way that my 10-year-old self or 20-year-old self never could. This is the sort of insight that grownups brag about when they shake a finger at you and say you’ll understand when you’re old. It’s a frustrating thing to be told—all the way to the day you understand it. Suddenly, you realize the seed of frustration and curiosity and desire for black-n-white answers grew into a tree of ambiguity and uncertainty. And one day, you are brave enough (or crazy enough, or simply old enough) to pick a fruit from that tree and chew it to the core. At the core is acceptance, and life—as seen through it—is a steady cycle full of humor and irony. There is a little surprise, but much peace can be found in that knowledge. It is the sort of complex emotion that explains the silly behaviors of old folk. Like how they laugh and shrug when you want to teach your cat to fetch, but can’t pry her feline body from the sun-kissed grass where she lounges. You claim this as a betrayal of friendship, but old age knows this is a simple clash of true natures. Youth worries when nighttime falls, but old age knows the sun will rise again, it’s a matter of true nature. All this explains why grownups say you can’t understand yet—because you can’t. None of this makes any sense if you don’t already know it and besides, you are entitled to the innocent ignorance of youth. It is yours to be savored, and I’ve heard it told that youth has the most delicious true nature anyone could ever taste.
Though I have some time to go before I know that last part for sure. I’m only just almost 30… 10,950-ish days old… and falling quickly into my 11,000’s.
I’m not upset about celebrating in the company of people who have known me less than 10 days. No one is a stranger for long in this world and, as usual, I am blesses by the presence of brilliantly kind women. To some, they are arsonists, drug dealers, escape artists, and car thieves—but to me, they are my newest sisters. Their strength is plentiful and refuels my light when I run low. I would trust my transition into my third decade to these women, but (luckily for them) I have already celebrated. My husband made me art. My mama sent me a card with an appropriately—hassled—looking cat on it. The girls at county jail—with their unerringly natural sense of mindful love—made me a cake. It was made of beans and Top Ramen because I don’t eat sugar, and they understand the importance of holding onto that restraint in my life. It was made of almost all they had, and it was magical. They sang for me and drew me a card and the beauty of our band-aide sisterhood humbled me to tears. Everyone gave a little—but the sum of the parts became greater than the whole. The celebration became a metaphor for my entire life. It was my celebration—it is my life—but every bit of it can be sourced back to the love and gifts of others. In that moment of pure gratitude and recognition, I became 30. A soup-bean cake was my rite of passage.
Now, I’m just waiting at this A-Yard depot. I traded my jailhouse blues for prison oranges. My roommates seem to come and go as fast as the days, but we make the most of our time—keeping busy and finding value in shared insight. In this 8-woman cell, I was taught the secret of dream catchers, crafted from scraps of strings and used lids. They are wondrous. I build one and wonder if, perhaps, at my truest core, I am a dreamer.