He Remembered Me
If you want to know how fast technology changes, go away for 14 years. The Internet was in its infant stage when I went away to prison. I never had a cellphone, either. So imagine the shock of these two technologies when I came home in May of 2009. I was told to be very careful because things had changed since I first went in. But when I saw all the people who walked around apparently talking to themselves, I was scared. It reminded me of the time I’d been in San Francisco and there were a lot of people on the streets talking to themselves because they were suffering from a bad case of schizophrenia. I didn’t see that they had something in their ear that let them talk on the phone. It was something I’d seen on the TV show 24that I thought was a TV invention or just pure fiction.
It hit me the time my mom dropped me off in front of the garden center at a Home Depot where I was going to buy a tomato plant. Then I was confronted with all these people talking to themselves, or so I thought. I quickly ran back to the car, my eyes large with fear. “Mom, what’s going on out here, everybody’s talking to themselves, I’m afraid to look at anyone lest they kill me. I’d seen people do this a lot in San Francisco. But not here in Georgia”. Mom started laughing and explained that these people had blue teeth. I didn’t know that was the plural for Blue Tooth. I was bewildered. What could the color of their teeth have anything to do with their schizophrenia? And why did they all have blue teeth anyway? ”Are blueberries the main dietary source now or what?”, I inquired. Mom continued laughing harder than ever. Finally, she managed to get out that the blue teeth weren’t teeth at all, but a phone. Oh my God, I thought; people have put telephones in their teeth. Man, I really got off on the wrong floor. Mom was laughing even harder and could now barely breathe and keep herself upright. This was starting to make me mad. I was feeling jilted by God that the world has become such a strange and profane place that even my mother couldn’t relate to me anymore. When finally she stopped laughing and told me the phone was called a Blue Tooth and that tooth went into the ear, it was such a relief to me. Things weren’t so bad after all. This was something I could understand. So I got my plant and we went home.
After I left prison I was placed on a leg monitor with strict instructions about the times I could leave the house, go to groups and meetings and look for a job. A job was critical as my coming home incurred expenses for my mother that put her over her fixed income. Plus, getting a job is a parole requirement. So naturally, finding a job was high on my list of priorities.
Mom drove me all around during my allotted hours out, when I wasn’t in group or treatment, to find a job. But what a very bleak time for job hunting! I’d gone through the Department of Labor program, filled out applications on-line and in person, but it was all to no avail. I’d been home about seven weeks when mom drove up in front of the Barnes & Noble Bookstore and told me to go in there and get an application. I put on my secure face and walked into the store. Seeing a such diverse looking group working there, I relaxed and asked for the application. That was on a Friday. I took it home and filled it out completely, taking my time and the entire weekend to make sure it was perfect. I attached a resume with a list of all the jobs and things I’d done and learned in prison. One of which included working in the prison library and having read more than 1,000 books over the last 14 years. On Monday I went back to the store and asked for the manager. She was on the phone. I waited patiently for about 25 minutes or so. She took my application, glanced at it. Her eyebrows raised she asked if I could come back the next day. That went on for the next two days and on the third day I was hired. Praise the Lord, I said. That was on July 1st, 2009. Since then I’ve been given a promotion and a raise. God is so good!
I cannot drive as part of my probation, so another priority was to get a bicycle. I asked on Facebook, one of the cool internet things I had found out about since leaving prison, if anyone had a bicycle they weren’t using. One of my friends on Facebook was Jan, who had briefly said “hi” on Facebook. But he also said that he wasn’t in a very good place and that he would even be moving soon to another state. Although he did remember me, I did feel his depression through the cyberspace I was just learning to navigate. So, I figured I wouldn’t be seeing him.
Jan wrote back and said, “I have a racer I’ll bring to you”. Wow, I couldn’t believe it. I mean that was an answer the same day I asked! This internet thing is fantastic. I told mom about the bike and she suggested I tell him to ride it down and we’d get him a Marta ticket for his bus ride home, as a joke. I didn’t think it sounded too funny but I did as she suggested. Jan totally ignored our suggestion; maybe out of politeness or that he just thought we were plain nuts. He brought the bicycle two days later.
He pulled up in an SUV and got out and came towards me. My arms flew open and we hugged like long-lost friends do when they meet again. Damn, he felt good in my arms. But I figured that was because my arms hadn’t been around a man in over 14 plus years, unless you count my brother, my dad or my friend who used to visit me in prison. I didn’t count them as being like a REAL man nevertheless their gender. I must have felt good to Jan because he seemed to enjoy hugging me as well.
The racer was very tall and had a bar that I couldn’t swing my leg over. Jan held the bike between his knees as I tried to get on it, but couldn’t. It was too tall for me. Oh well, I said, let’s go inside.
Jan met my mother and they really hit it off. They are both cooking experimenters with excellent results. So they talked a lot about food. I watched in amazement as the conversations unfolded. We were immediately comfortable with Jan. He was like a member of our household already. But no one was thinking about love. No, love was a very far thought from my mind, and my body.