imagine

“I’m not putting on your socks, chica.” I said sharply, “You’re seven months pregnant. It. Is. Not. Happening.

“But you’re freezing. Your lips are blue, and the deputies aren’t gonna bring you another pair. Take. My. Socks.” She was standing barefoot, staring at me huddled in bed, holding her socks in her jail-tattooed hand.

“It’s my fault,” I soothed her, “I should have made sure there weren’t holes in them during clothing exchange. I’ll figure it out tomorrow. It’s just as cold for you in here. Put your socks on, chica. For the baby.”

She made a face at me, because I pulled the baby card, but obliged– sitting on her bunk, stretching past her belly to pull them up. I jumped down from my bunk to help and she admonished me.

“You’re going to ruin your bladder if you do that this whole time. It’s gonna pop straight out your vag.”

I tugged her socks up and laughed. “I don’t think that’s how science works, kiddo.”

She shrugged. “I want you to have the lower bunk when I leave. Just take it. The cops’ll do the paperwork if you don’t ask them.”

“I’m good on the top bunk,” I said, “The climb up and jump down doesn’t bug me.”

“It’s not about you, it’s about the next girl, and setting a tone. This is your room after I leave.” She tried to sprawl out on the narrow bunk but her belly extended every which way. I tucked her in, and then grabbed my blanket, tented it around myself, and squatted on the floor beside her.

“I’ll be okay. Besides, you don’t know the next girl.  She’ll probably be nice.”

Her eyes narrowed and she looked at me. “I know every next girl who comes through here, or someone just like her.  They’re never nice.”

I smiled, “You’re nice. I’m nice.”

She scoffed, “I’m not nice, and you’re the exception. I’ve never seen anyone like you in here and I’ve seen some real girlscouts.”

“I was never a girlscout,” I commented.

“If you went up to a door, and asked them to buy some cookies,” she asked, “What would happen?”

I was stymied. “Well, um, I’d probably sell a cookie?”

“Girlscout!” she proclaimed triumphantly. “Shoot, you aren’t even used to your feet being cold.” Then, “Hey, I didn’t say fuck. I’m getting better! You’re helping.”

I winced. “Okay, good.  But now let’s try not saying it every time we don’t say it.”

She shrugged and I watched her lotion her belly, gently patting the baby inside. She’d been kind to me since before I even entered the cell. Her want for a better life gave me a sense of peace I wouldn’t find for months after she left.  Her advice would see me through the sentence I didn’t yet know I had to serve.

“You’re used to your feet being cold?” I asked out of idle curiosity.

“When I have, I have. And when I didn’t, well. They let you out these doors at 2am, in whatever clothes you were wearing when they pulled you out of your house at whatever time of night. I’ve been out there, on the dark streets, in a nightgown, barefoot. I’ve stayed in shelters when I couldn’t get mom to come home. They don’t have socks to give out like tickets, not everyone’s got it like that.”

The baby started to move and we were distracted, watching him shift around, unaware that he was in a cage within a cage. Minutes passed, the lights went out, and I took the cue. I climbed into my bunk, and sang a song about the wild geese, and snow whispers, and how they knew it was time to go.

“Must be nice,” she yawned.

“Snow?” I asked, thinking she was talking about the song.

“No,” she chuckled. “Just, living that kinda life. Where doors open. Where you don’t have to be cold.   Imagine always feeling like you can find a place or way to warm your feet, without having to hustle for it.”

She yawned into a sleep and I stayed up for a bit to think about what she had said. To imagine. I folded little toilet paper flowers for her to wake up to, and I left them on our table. Then I went to sleep.

I woke up to extra pairs of socks, hanging from my bunk like Christmas stockings.

“Don’t ask,” she said, “Just wear them all at the same time so the cops don’t see, alright?”

“I could have dealt with the cold, chica.” I argued, as I slipped on the contraband socks, feeling the feeling slowly come back to my toes.

“Probably,” she said, “But you were lying there, and I was looking at the flowers you left, and I suddenly understood. Why people would open their doors if you knocked.”

I looked at her, prompting her to continue, as I climbed gently off the bunk, in cautious just-in-case consideration of my bladder.

“It’s because you don’t know any better.  And no one wants to be the first person to teach you the world is cold, dark, and unfriendly.”

I laughed.  “If the world is so unfriendly, how did I end up with an awesome bunky?”

She rolled her eyes.  “Okay, Rara. Your bunky is awesome, doors open if you knock, and there’s always some way to warm your feet.”

“Tell another true story,” I replied, “I like them.”

“Nah,” she said, balancing precariously on the stool.  “You tell a story now, and we’ll try to brainwash this little guy to not know any better either.”

I patted her belly in agreement and sat beside her, moving the flowers to the side.  “A long time ago,” I began, “When the Earth was still new, and all the best green things were blossoming from kindness, and all the  best sparkly things were being formed from possibility, there lived a boy who was born in a cage inside a cage.  A boy who would know the sweetness of freedom, even on bitter days.  A boy who would know the truth of warmth, even on cold nights…”

____________________________________

NanoPoblano, NaBloPoMo

____________________________________

It’s #Sockvember!  Patrick Michael is collecting socks for the homeless in his area till the 30th of this month.  Any type of new pair is welcome. You can send it directly to his address which you can find on his blog:

https://moonknight64.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/sockvember-a-pink-hat-mission-for-lori/

____________________________________

I don’t have any sort of organization or point to these memories. They’re all just little bursts of thoughts and feelings.   They’re the ones that flash through my mind when someone implies that I should be so happy to be away from that space.  Jail wasn’t all bad.  Prison wasn’t all bad.  I don’t recommend it, but it really wasn’t all bad.

The doors were locked, but I found kindness in the cage, and plenty of ways to keep my heart and toes warm.

How do you keep your heart and toes warm?

48 Comments

  1. I always have cold toes and fingers. When I lived in NY, when they would freeze in the winter, I would get chillblains which would itch like crazy! Anyway, you’re lucky you had some nice people inside with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What’s a chillblain?? My feet and hands ate usually cold too… But this kinda cold was different for me for some reason. It could have been that I was eating so little and was so stressed at the time? I don’t know exactly… but I know that I woke up warmer outside in the middle of a WA state winter. Mysteries!

      Like

      1. I cut and paste this definition for chillblains: a painful, itching swelling on the skin, typically on a hand or foot, caused by poor circulation in the skin when exposed to cold. Sounds fun huh?
        Well yes, I suppose given the circumstances it’s no wonder your body may have been functioning differently. On the bright side, it’s a good thing you don’t suffer from the cold on a regular basis.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My coherent thoughts have been distracted by your shine of sparkly glitter- it’s every where. The top bunk shines, it makes the socks look extra warm with the glow it gives them and the TP flowers look like jewels. And then, most amazing, it’s joined by more. A slightly different color, but shining and sparkling just the same.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The top bunk was great. I could see a bunch of newspapers that’d been stuck to the fluorescent lamps…. I mightve wrote you about it. They were random but looked like a dino reading a book!

      Thank you, Jessie, for reading. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 2 people

  3. So … all of these memories must be collected into a book. I think I said that, on a different post, but this one made me say it again. As soon as I started reading.

    Anyway — how to warm hearts and toes? Dogs. Without question. Ours sleep on the bed and are the best heaters in the world. Nothing like a 70-pound, dreaming, tooth-filled pillow on or near your body every night. Protection and warmth, all in one. Fabulous. However, our pastor says a dog on the bed is every Nigerian mother’s worst nightmare, which made me smile, which in turn made him laugh. He knows we enjoy mortifying everyone. πŸ˜€ Now, off to the store. In flip-flops. Without socks. So I can come home to warm them. Under the first available dog.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Because you live in a world of gratitude and kindness and the ability to see the best in everyone you will find it returned wherever you go. It is your special blessing. No matter what you went through in jail and in prison, and I get it that at times it was really tough, I always knew you’d deal, and deal well, because you live in a world of gratitude and kindness and the ability to see the best in everyone. You have a big heart Ra. It keeps many people warm, my shiny glittery friend.
    Alison ❀ ❀ ❀
    PS I'm lucky enough to have never had a shortage of socks. Long may it continue πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

  5. My feet are often cold. And my nose-tip. And I managed to get blue fingernails and shivers in Florida. I think it’s just part of who I am, to be a little bit on the chilly side all the time. BUT it means that I like snuggling, and that’s a wonderful way to warm up (with the right person).

    My heart waxes hot and cold, but there’s always an ember and a silver lining in there somewhere.

    Do you keep in touch with them? Or are they ladies who existed in those places only (if that makes sense – they belonged to the context, kinda)?

    Liked by 4 people

  6. This is one of my favorite posts of yours that I’ve read so far (though it’s so hard to choose). Important. Beautiful. And as a soon to be mommy of a son too, quite heart wrenching as well.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. My heart gets warmed by beautiful moments like this. Thank you for showing us the beauty in the stark. We all deserve warm feet. Here’s to a world filled with socks. I’ll donate some socks (and handmade hats) on this faraway coast in honor of your warm feet.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Another gem from the heart (I mean you Ra, in case you didn’t recognise yourself) of a prison: I am so impressed at how you not only managed to survive there, but also to thrive and to bring light and love to your bunky. You are amazing.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Beautiful. I worked with the homeless for 10 years before my Wee One came, and a lot of them were ex-offenders, even still in, in the transitional program. Some of the guys were assholes, but some of them, more than I anticipated, were the salt of the earth. I like hearing this story and imagining some of my guys had a cellie like yours, that they found kindness as well. Thank you for sharing about your experience with us.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Oh Ra. *hugs* The irony does not escape me, her telling you that you didn’t know the world could be cold, dark, and unfriendly, while sitting in a prison cell for a crime you didn’t commit! Of all the places to totally understand unfriendly, that would be it!

    I think instead of that, what your friend was trying to describe, is that you know in your heart you are loved, and can shine that anywhere, even there. So many don’t know they’re loved, have never truly felt it, and without love, the world is cold and dark and unfriendly, indeed. People who know they are loved often bring warmth, light, and friendliness where it’s most needed.

    I loved this. It even made me cry, especially at the end, with the story for the baby. That was … ultrepic. πŸ˜€ Thank you for sharing it. ❀

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I think of my kids and memories of when they were growing up, things we did. And now, there are my two grand sons. Memories of good times keep me going…keep me warm.

    Like

  12. Knitting for other people. Ideally while also praying for other people. Well, it’s what works for me. Knitting and music seem to be the two biggies for keeping my prayer life going right now.

    I saw a book of knitting patterns for dinosaurs the other day and it made me think of you. Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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