Hello SQ News!
First off, let me say how much I miss all of you. I am at a loss for words to adequately express the depth of my feelings for you all, and simply want you to know you are remembered fondly and wishes well every day.
After being out for nearly nine months. I am still trying to settle into my new life her in Fl. It is a strange thing to hear crickets or cicadas instead of alarms all the time. The air here is thick with humidity most days. The people are 99.9 percent friendly and down to earth, yet I still feel like I am a stranger in a foreign land. Eight years in prison definitely made an impact one and how I see the world.
I still have difficulty sometimes relating to “free people” because so much of my time was spent immersed in the limitations inherent in the incarcerated world. It’s as though I don’t really know how to act without someone telling me what I can and can’t do. Strange, but true. Definitely an adjustment and a growing up, again, of sorts. Personal accountability, discipline, and a sense of purpose are the concepts most difficult to put into practice now that I’m “on my own”. I guess I hadn’t fully realized how much I came to depend on you all, my brothers, for moral support every day. I knew I would miss you all when I left, but I really had no idea what it would end up feeling like. I can tell you know; it’s painful. It’s emotionally and mentally and physically painful. Not being able to see you, talk with you, laugh with you, brainstorm and work on projects with you-it leaves me feeling empty and adrift.
I thought I would immediately look for similar work her in Florida, but I have not been able to find anything that compare with being there with you all. Doubtful that anything ever will. I was so blessed to have had the time with you there that I did. My hope now is that I can figure out what I am suppose to do with that experience and knowledge from here on out.
“As I continue my job search here, I am hopeful I will find a teaching position which allow me to work with ‘at-risk’ kids”
I knew I needed to decompress after being there so long, but now that I feel like I can breathe and think clearly again, I am getting anxious that I don’t know which direction to go in next. This limbo time is difficult for me. As most of you know, I don’t really how to “slow down”. I always told those of you who told me to “slow down” that I only have two speeds: Go, and Stop. And, while I am a big fan of getting some rest once in a while, being in this “stop” mode for so long is not natural for me; it’s getting uncomfortable. Those of you who’ve participated in Jacques Verduin’s classes know about “sitting in the fire” with whatever you’ve got going on. I guess this is my version of “sitting in the fire”. Sure ain’t easy. My hat’s off to those of you who’ve done it and continue to work on it.
To help me feel like I was “doing something” again, I signed up to participate in a Half-Marathon, which takes place in Washington, DC, April 28, to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I did it because I know several people who are dealing with blood cancers, and wanted to do something to further the possibility of them living long and fruitful lives despite their diagnoses. One of those people is Dominick (Dee, New York) Whitaker, whom I came to through the S.Q. Thousand Mile Club. To see his determination and positive spirit was always inspirational. I wish I could go for practice runs with him now for this half-marathon I have coming up! He will be with me in sprit as I go the 13.1 miles as best I can on April 28.
As I continue my job search here, I am hopeful I will find a teaching position which allowed me to work with “at-risk” kids. But so far, God has not made a path evident, so I continue to pray on it and get prepared for the moment when the opportunity comes, so I can with purpose.
Despite trying to “do good” here, hearing the news of Ron Taylor’s passing, and the denials of parole for many of the men I know, and then the deaths of several cherished volunteers, my heart aches and I am despondent and feel inconsolable without being around you all. Because, no one can relate to what I’m feeling, it’s like being an expatriate of sorts. I’m sure that the guys who are now on the outside have a similar kind of feeling. None of us wants to stay in there indefinitely, but we miss it in a weird way once we’re out. Well, we miss SOME of it!
In my fumbling attempt to convey through words what I am feeling at being apart from you all, I hope the essence of it had come thought. And that what I stated at the beginning: I miss you and continue to be humbled by the knowledge that life really does go one without me.
I am proud of all of you for continuing to do the good things you do. You were doing it before I got there. You tought me how to be a part of it and how to encourage other to be involved, too. And you keep doing despite the comes and going of me and countless others. That is the definition of perseverance, patience, and purpose.
As I said often during my time there, even though I came to be there as a teacher, I learned much more from the men I worked with then I ever taught. Thank you for that. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your circles and for taking me into your confidence. My gratitude to you as my teachers is endless. My life is so much richer for having known you.
God bless each of you and your loved ones. I look forward to a day when I can share time with all of you again, inside or outside.
My best to you all.
Editor’s Note: Laura is the former San Quentin community partnership manager.
Hello SQ News!