I was a bit worried, scared I guess. I wasn’t sure what to expect. My release date finally reached reality. I had ideas and plans but I knew, especially then, that circumstances don’t always fall in line with plans. Desires and life aren’t engaged in a symbiotic relationship. As I stepped through those gates, my feet touching free ground, it was like entering a new world, like I had never before experienced freedom. I was unfamiliar with it. I’d forgotten what it was like to be free, what it was supposed to feel like.

I wore the clothes my mother and sister sent me in a “release package,” an orange t-shirt, dark blue jeans, very baggy, and the pair of Timberland boots I requested. There’s a picture of this moment, somewhere, I don’t have it with me now, but I remember it because I once framed it. I even taped a thin slip of paper with a message (from a fortune cookie) in the upper right-hand corner. It says “A person is as free as he believes himself to be.”

That day, June 1, 2002, possessed a dreamlike quality. I was floating. During the course of my 9 year bid, I was never completely certain I’d ever make it out. It was a horrible reality, going in at 16 years old. I was a kid. I was supposed to be in high school, 11th grade. Instead, I had resigned myself to the thought that my future held only two possibilities: (1) I would die in a prison cell, or (2) I’d be given a life sentence for killing someone, for protecting myself.

Today, June 1, 2017, does not possess a dreamlike quality, but I’m thankful for this day. That I’m writing this post, it’s almost a miracle. I thank God for this moment. After this post I’m going to grade some tests from my Tuesday evening class, then I’ll create my lesson plan for tonight’s class. It’s the first week of a new semester. I always enjoy the first week, meeting my new students, getting a feel for their personalities, their strengths and weaknesses.

About 18 months ago I was visiting friends and family in Florida. I was talking with my cousin. He turned to me and said, “Dude, I still can’t picture you as a teacher.” He laughed.

“Congrats,” he said, and raised his drink. We clinked the necks of our bottles then sipped.

He said, “Seriously, I can’t believe you’re a teacher.”

I laughed. “Sometimes,” I said, “I can’t believe it either.”


26 thoughts on “15 Years Ago Today

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. I do share much with my students, just not about my time inside. At my OTHER teaching job, at an ATI (alternate to incarceration) program, I definitely shared my experiences inside. Coincidentally, I’m a USF man too. I went to the Tampa campus. Go Bulls! Again, thanks for stopping by. God bless.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Well done for coming out the other side of your prison experience, and making a positive life for yourself by helping others.
    Thanks for following my blog, which is much appreciated.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Most people who are released from prison WANT to do the right things, they want to make favorable changes in their lives, but there is much they must contend with, beginning with the horrors of being incarcerated, the stress and trauma that comes along with that. A felony conviction is kind of like a “proof of citizenship,” it tells people that you are here legally but you really belong to a microcosm of ‘untrustables,’ an underworld, if you will. It automatically paints you as a shady character in the minds of the large majority of our population. With this blog, I’m hoping to help change that negative perception, in my own small way. Again, thanks for reading. God bless.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I never know what to expect when I check out someone who has signed up to follow my blog (Pesky Truth), but I’m very pleasantly surprised to find someone with a gift, a person who can write and convey ideas and feelings – and that is truly a gift. I’m also impressed at the way that you’ve managed to gain control of your life and become someone who deserves the admiration and respect that your story warrants. You should be proud of what you’ve accomplished and the person you’ve become. Sincere best wishes for your continued success.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wish I was eloquent enough to write a proper reply, but my blog is about images, not words. Just wanted to thank you for the follow and to say I completely agree with the sentiments above. You really do have a gift. Enjoy the new life you have created for yourself. When I’m not too busy with the “zoo”, I hope to find the time to pop back and read some more 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Thanks for reading and commenting. My greatest hope is that people can learn something from my writing, especially ex-cons who are released and unsure of what to do next or how to feel. Thanks again. God bless.


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