i should be packing.
arranging little travel soaps and shampoos in a bag, throwing in clothes, shoes, undies, reading material, extras...
i leave for texas on wednesday and there's still a million things to do.
i still need to get some rolls of quarters. no paper money is allowed inside.
i still need to make the reservation on the rental car. i don't want to put 1500 miles on my own.
it's a 12 hour drive or thereabouts...i'll travel through the florida panhandle, transverse that little tiny part of alabama that hangs precariously between florida and mississippi. I'll see mississippi at about dusk...it's gorgeous. lousisiana will be dark as always and eats up the longest portion of my trip... i'll stop rarely. somehow i just don't feel all that safe stopping in rest stops and gas stations all by myself. music and phone-a-friends will keep me company. my excitement about leaving georgia behind will keep me awake.
i'm staying at a guesthouse this time. there have been hotels and rooms with an inmate's family, but this time is different. this is a bed and breakfast of sorts for those coming to see inmates...one guest is facing the execution of her husband next month. i don't think i'm ready to confront that sort of sorrow. but i will. and afterwards, i will close the door to my little room, sink to the floor, and place my head in my hands. i will probably wonder why i do this to myself. but only for a brief moment. a tear might fall...but not another. i have to keep it together.
on thursday, i will visit robert first. it's a special, 4 hour visit on consecutive days. then i will probably visit lee. on friday, i will see richard, then robert again. that's all i can squeeze in this trip and probably all i can handle.
we will talk about cases, about life, about the past, about the buzz there....laugh, trade barbs, eat vending machine junk food. i will smile despite my problems with my dimples. for a good part of those hours, the surroundings won't matter. they fade away almost completely until the attendant comes by "you've got 5 minutes. wrap it up." we all struggle not to look too disappointed. i don't want to feel like i'm leaving them there to die, but i do. i don't want to feel like a failure, but sometimes i do.
they watch me walk down the run until i'm out of sight. i don't usually look back. i keep my back straight and my head held high. on friday afternoon, when i leave, i will do the same, but i'll also put my head on the steering wheel for a while and try my best not to cry. sometimes i fail miserably. however, i'm still looking forward to it all.
to be continued....