Bunkie

If you are looking at prison time this will be your new nickname, Bunkie, at least at the Federal Women’s Camp.

I moved on to the compound on May 7th after being in quarantine for 21 days and I was assigned to an upper bunk in an already occupied lower bunk cubicle.

My first Bunkie, A*, was the same age as I was and worked in the Commissary Warehouse. We had similar hours which helped when it came to our routines.

When she came home that afternoon she definitely had her guard up and asked me if I had ever done time, I said no. So she basically said “My stuff is my stuff and your stuff is your stuff”. Easy enough. I later would learn that one of her previous Bunkie’s had been blamed for stealing from her.

It didn’t take us long to become friends. I really liked living with A, she liked it quiet and read a lot. We didn’t have much company which was good with me as well. All of the women I came in with were in the same unit, only upstairs. So I would often go up and eat dinner or just hang with them. This also gave A* her privacy too, I had mine after work most days, she would get home later than me. I was an early riser on the weekends and would spend time writing, making bookmarks or reading. I became friends with some of her friends too and before she left we would all shop for meals and eat together. A* would talk a lot of shit to the loud women in the unit and she would also sing heavy rock songs when some of the other women would start in at the top of their lungs. We had a lot of laughs in the few months we spent together and I will always consider her a friend.

I was fortunate enough to have only good Bunkie’s during my stay. A* left to go to quarantine in the end of July and that’s when I moved with K* upstairs into another cubicle. K* was a lot of fun and became a good friend. We would talk and listen to each others stories and become each others confidants as well. K* is a year younger than I am and we got along well. I thought I was funny when I would learn some new terminology and go back to the cubicle and tell K* for shock value. She would always tell me to grow up, the answer was always “NEVER!!!”.

I had two more Bunkie’s before I left another K* and H*. I was lucky, they were both easy to get a long with. H* and I had become really good friends, we both came in about the same time and just clicked right away, so living with her was easy.

If you find yourself in a situation like this consider the following:

  • Always be mindful of the other person’s space and belongings
  • Do not allow just anyone in your cubicle without consideration of your Bunkie
  • What’s yours is yours and what’s hers is hers
  • Pick up after yourself and share the cleaning responsibilities, you both live there
  • If you don’t want it done to you, don’t do it to your Bunkie

Just be considerate. You can always ask to move if things don’t work out, but have a place and person to live with before you ask. Staff doesn’t like pettiness and will not move you for no reason, you could possibly end up in the hallway or in a different unit altogether.

Peace for your day!

** The image pictured above is from a general search. This is the bunkbeds we slept in and we also had a metal wall mounted desk like the one pictured. We had two lockers (short), for our personal items and food storage and hung our clothes at the end of the bed. Before I left we were given plastic bins to store under our beds, they were taken for the men’s FCI before I stayed at the camp. We were a working camp for the property which included a men’s federal prison.

COVID, Federal Prison Camp & Quarantine

I self surrendered on April 13, 2020 to a Women’s Federal Prison Camp. I only remember the last 20 minutes of our ride there and an waving goodbye to my guy as he drove away.

In the lobby I was escorted to a conference room and asked several questions by an officer. One of the hardest things through this entire process is having to relive childhood and adult trauma to men. Men seem to have very little compassion, the ones I have encountered anyway, for women who have experienced trauma. In those moments the man who asked me questions didn’t even act like I was human, as I would learn in the next year, he treated everyone like that.

From there I was led to R & D, where a woman had me fill out some paperwork and gave me government issued clothing. I was fingerprinted and had my photo taken for my id that I would carry for the next year. Some women’s id’s reminded me of elementary school pictures, smiling and happy. I always wondered what was going through their heads in those moments. I was given two bags and a camp cot and then taken by my Case Manager to the Chapel where I would be quarantined until May 7th when I was released to the compound to my housing unit I would spend the rest of my time in.

When I got to the Chapel, there were two other women there. One in her 40’s and another in her 30’s. I have to back track, in the lobby a women close to my age had just returned after being gone for a few months for medical issues. She would later come into the Chapel with us and a day later another woman from Texas would come in. We would spend the spend the next 21 days together in the Chapel, reading, writing, watching movies and getting to know each other.

I later realized how lucky I was to be in quarantine with those women. Instead of being thrown onto the compound without knowing anyone, I had 4 women I knew. N* questioned and watched me, I didn’t know until she told me later that she was watching me to make sure I was who I said I was. Meaning my words and actions matched. N* and I talked a lot and shared our stories with each other. Common thread….Trauma. She would share food and toiletries with me without hesitation and without asking for or wanting anything in return. She helped me with my first commissary sheet and after that I would always buy things to share or things she liked so that I could return her kindness. We would spend the months leading up to her move in July together, granted we made other friends, but we always found our way back together.

The youngest woman, J*, I got to know about a week after she got there, she was coming down and was sleeping it off. She and I would stick together after our move as well. You could always find 4 out of 5 of us not too far from each other. J would come to me when she was really homesick for her Mama, just to sit or for a hug.

The lady who came in with me had already been there and had her own group she went back too. While we were in the Chapel many women, and several of her friends, would bring us food, clothing, shoes or other items we couldn’t get because our spends were low when we first came in.

Then came V, she is the same age as me. We would talk a lot about life experiences and she would share some funny stories of her wild days with me.

We could only shower every third day and we had to wait for a unit to clear out and be escorted by a guard. We had laundry once a week, they would come get our bags in the morning and they would be returned in the afternoon. Everything was washed and dried in a mesh bag. We would hand wash our under garments in the bathroom sink and hang them to dry on the back of chairs in the room we shared. J and I also took to shaving our legs in the sink so that we would save time in the regular shower.

I am still more than grateful for the women I shared time and space with during quarantine, I know that there will be three of them that someday when all of this is over I will see again.

So this is with who and how I spent my first 21 days in.

Peace

For you Alyse….

Sorting through my emails just now, I came across the last two and the the prompt sisterhood caught me right away. This is the second time today this word has found its way to me… Its been too long since I have been able to spend time with you writing….so this prompts for you.

Sisterhood

The ease of the chair, the music filtering through the air. Sisterhood, my friends, my sisters by marriage, but oh..my…sister. Her name is Cindy and I have had her in my life for the last 7 years. I flip through the images in my mind. The time she came to visit and we had our pictures taken. I look at her and look for me. In the beginning we shared all of our “me too’s”, likes and loves, gains and loses. We are so similar and very different. She is one of my biggest cheerleaders and my confidant. She is 21 years older than me, but the years fall away between us. We missed so much and gained so much when we connected. She is beautiful and kind, she loves people and people love her. My sister ❤

Sisterhood

Alyse, she is my sister too. She pulled me through the self conscious door when it came to my writing. She watched and allowed me to feel my way through the process of shutting down my inner critic who was concerned with what others thought about my wiring. I admire her, her gifts and her friendship. She is one of many. The Sisterhood, the intuits, the executives, the homegirls, the chicks I love. The Green is for you One. The Rain washes away the unnecessary one, the strawberry shortcake one, the lick your face one. The Pittsburgh one. The artist. The writer. The supportive. The blonde one. The three of them. The German and the French ones. I honor all of my sisters. They all bring something very unique to the table and always a lot of love.

So this prompt is for you Alyse….I miss prompts with you.


In my 49th year

In my 49 years of life I’ve learned a lot.

Age 5 : I learned that not all adults are kind and wont keep you safe from the monsters. Many times they are monsters.

Age 8: Abused children are predators too.

Age 12: Step parents aren’t always the best parents.

Age 13: Some friends will always be your friends.

Age 16: People continue to reiterate that they aren’t kind. Some lessons repeat themselves.

Age 18: Some things aren’t as significant as you think they are. Twenty years from 18 a lot of shit wont matter. Don’t give it too much thought or time.

Age 20: Black eyes still show through makeup

Age 22: You wait for 6 years

Age 28: The most amazing experience, I became a mom.

Times change, a lot happens, good and bad. Family will treat you terribly and you will tolerate it because, well, because they are supposed to be family.

Age 47 and 364 days: My boy leaves after 14 years with me. There will never be a time I will ever completely let go of him. Buster was my constant, unconditional love for 14 years….fourteen years. And then this year not one but three new brown-eyed boys show up and open the places in my heart I couldn’t feel and maybe didn’t want too. Animals heal.

Relationships change, people come and go, and so do we.

Age 48: Yes, I knew it would be different. I wasn’t sure how, but I knew. Sometimes I just didn’t even want to be here any more. It was enough, people you trust break you. Friends aren’t really, never really were, friends. So I ask my Creator for change, for something better, not realizing that the storm was coming. It took me a couple of months to come up for air. My Mom, my friends, the good in my life held fast. It was time to let the falseness fall away and some of those ties would hurt when they let loose. Time to get up. I never really laid down for long, just long enough to gather my breath and thoughts, to figure out what was coming next.

A new job comes. I am tested, and I swim. I love what I do and the people I work with. Sure there is stress and obstacles, but when isn’t there? We are a good community working for the betterment of human beings. And I am learning!!! Who could ask for more? Jobs change, sometimes abruptly without warning. You are left spinning, trying to figure out what’s next. Time ticks by and a new job appears, new friendships are weaved. Life starts looking better.

I want more and less, and more. So easy, more good…people, friends, happiness. Less unhappiness, self-doubt, judgement from those around me. And more. And. More. I was seeking, I just always knew…..someone would come. I just didn’t know when.

And its Friday and I look at you and my first thought is “How lucky am I to love this human?” There isn’t an answer that would tell the entire world what is in my heart for you. I have had time to reflect and I was thinking that, for the first time, in a long time, I don’t feel the need for a safe place. I know that with you I am safe, there is no fear of hurt or betrayal, no lies and no one else. I don’t have to wonder where you are when we aren’t together, what you are doing or if there is someone else. I know what it feels like to be loved without condition. You don’t want to control me and allow me the freedom to be exactly who I am without judgement. But most importantly we only expect from each other what we are willing to give. Gosh, I love you ❤ and everything about you. We are imperfectly perfect. You are my steady hand, constant heart and my Walk On the Wild Side. There have been many firsts with you and I look forward to many more.

Steady rhythms of life, growth, love…all of it.

So here is to my 49th year. Life just keeps getting better. I have been through a lot and wouldn’t trade one single moment of any of it for the place I am in now. It’s all been worth it just to get to this point.

So, um, yeah….49 looks good ❤

Peace

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