The end of summer. It happens every year, but this year has been a particular pisser.
How does one adjust from lollygagging on an island in Maine to walking into a high security men’s state prison? For me? Not well.
No sense describing idyllic island life in detail other than to say my days consisted of tennis, scrabble, beach and cocktails - all accompanied by endless chat – repeated like Ground Hog Day for the better part of 3 months. I would have stayed until the water got turned off but this job gig required my attention, “Poetry and Painting”….in prison.
It was not a good sign that it took two days to get back west. Thankful little Lucy shared her room so I didn’t have to sleep on an airport floor. (Note to self, book morning flights).Once I was physically west I tried, actually it was a pathetically weak attempt at pretending to try, to wrap my head around going back to prison. It was no use; I was in a self-induced coma. Shortly after landing I went through the motions and put on my required all back outfit, no colors that could be associated with any gangs, and headed east. I reluctantly drove into the apocalyptic abyss - cement surrounded by a lot of barbwire. Ugh. I passed the security check, met my co-worker, and headed through more security checks and into the yard. If aliens had come down and taken me to planet Zorba I would have been less shell-shocked than walking into the yard. Again, this was not my first excursion there but every time I walk into the place I know that I am walking into an alternate universe.
So, there we stood in the yard, waiting for the students to get out of the dinner hall, get checked out of their cells, and come to the gym for class. Normally we would have waited in the gym however it was at least 1,000 degrees in there - and more disturbingly the gym was housing a man in a cage - yes, a half dressed man in a cage – a bit more than I could handle at that point so we waited outside.
Over an hour later the gym was clear and the 25 students filtered in; I put on my game face and gave the game plan about visually interpreting the poetry of Robert Frost. What do I know about Robert Frost? Not much but am working on it. The students seemed interested and happy about this project so I felt a bit better as the class progressed.
I drove home and stayed in my self-induced coma for several days. I didn’t want to accept the fact that summer ended and I had responsibilities other than being on time for tennis. I am slowly coming out of it and accepting my new norm. In another week I am sure I will embrace my new norm. I am very grateful for my jobs and the opportunities they present that allow me to contribute to society - and to escape for 3 months. At least that is what I keep telling myself.
Class 1 down, 19 to go.