I visited L at the jail today. The visits are harder to arrange and manage now that he is over an hour away. Visiting days are Saturdays and Wednesday nights, so I can only get there once a month. We talked about that distance factor today and the impact that has had on him. Not only that I cannot come as often, but that he appears to have lost his girlfriend, who did visit when he was still in the jail here, but who did not return my calls with an offer to accompany me there, and who has not written to him since he was moved despite having an address to do so. Other friends also cannot visit, nor can folks from church, the time factor and the distance is just prohibitive.
He says the time is going a lot slower than when he was in jail here. But nonetheless, he was in better spirits than last time I saw him. Hiq quirky humor surfaced a few times. He says this jail is a strange place. He says when he tries to do right he gets in trouble and when he messes up he does not get caught. He says even he knows there is something wrong with that!
There have been no further incidents of violence against him, like the previous stabbing in the shower. That is healed and he has not caught the staph infection that has been running through the institution. He says "I wash my hands a LOT!!!" He's been in one fight over a card game, but it was more of a scuffle, and he admits to landing the first blow after being accused of cheating. I must have given him "the look" because he once again had to set me straight. I don't, he told me, understand how it is in there. You have to constantly prove yourself, that you are not weak, that you cannot be intimidated. So you have to make displays of your power, your fearlessness, or at least what passes for it. No, I don't get it. I don't want to. I will be so glad when he is out.
He says that this is IT, he really really does not want to go back to jail EVER. Even, he says, when times get hard outside and he thinks that it might be easier to do what he knows so well and be "institutional." He says he is done. "For real this time, RevKate." I hope so. I pray so. He says he has been looking at the old guys. "Skin and bones with nothing to show for their lives" and he says he does not want to be like that. This jail is so much more like prison than anything he has been exposed to before. Perhaps this transfer was not a bad thing, after all. Perhaps it was enough of a glimpse of the future that awaited him that it did have an impact.
He has a little over a month left. November 7 is the date he has been given. There is still some confusion over whether ir not he is really done at that point or if there is more time to serve, more probation, or if he is free at that point. Clarification to come. But as far as he knows at this point, at least on November 7, he leaves that place. Thanks be to God. Not that he has any idea where he is going. Some of the time is thinking maybe he will move out by his brother about a half hour from here. But that might depend on probation. That would also mean that he would lose his church community. One family for another perhaps? Time will tell. But then in the next breath, he wants to stay here, to see if he can get his old job back, talk to his old landlord, ask for a second chance all around. At least he is thinking about the future. This is a good sign, a hopeful sign. He says he is drawing and reading his Bible. He was going to church and Bible study until he got put on restriction for apparently misunderstanding the schedule and showing up at the wrong time for one of those things....so they banned him from them for two weeks. Yeah. OK, they have an institution to run and a schedule to keep and I care about him....different agenda. I'll check my attitude at the door. Maybe. But let me say that he is not the only one with a calendar with x's on it!
He says thank you to my "peeps." You know who you are. Those cards mean the world. Blessings on all your little heads!
I can't wait to see him not wearing an orange jumpsuit and a number. It's good to know that day is getting ever closer. And until then...I just pray on that God will hold him and keep him safe and help him be wise and think before he acts.