22 April, 2021

Waiting for Another Cellmate Is Nervewracking

The human with whom I've shared my immediate space for a year and a half just up and left – but not by any intention of his own. I think Jeff hoped to stay my cellmate until the day he paroled. The staff woke him from a dead sleep Tuesday morning (I was at work) and told him to pack his stuff. On my way back from work I saw him pushing a canvas-sided cart out of the house.

"I guess I'm on the transfer list," he said. "Been nice knowin' ya."

A year and a half, and that's how it ends. Jeff and I weren't close, but we were friends. His habit of playing devil's advocate could be infuriating, as was his tendency to turn every conversation into a verbal sparring match, but we got along. We had some very intelligent conversations. We also had fun. We could (as the vernacular has it) jail. This is no easy thing. I wasn't teary-eyed to see Jeff leaving, but I'll certainly miss him.

There were other moves. Four members of my Buddhist group left, leaving the sangha a shadow of its already rinky-dink former self. My friend and coworker Luke's cellmate, Tim, was one of them. Both Jeff and Tim thought their teaching assistant jobs for the Saint Louis University Prison Education Program were supposed to hold them here. So did the school, apparently. There might be significant fallout from all of this. We're likely also losing a valuable coworker, whose departure will put us at a disadvantage on several fronts, not least of which is finding a trustworthy, competent replacement.

Amid all the hullabaloo it's almost possible to forget my situation and put aside the anxiety about what this spin of the cellmate-roulette wheel might bring me. My first night alone in years wasn't anything to write home about. I'd considered staying up very late, burning the midnight oil to get work done on my novel. I ended up tuning just past the usual time. My eyes were burning from a long day's overuse, and I felt a slight tension headache coming on, so it was for the best. An extra-early morning, accompanied by Beethoven and the blackest of coffee was a far better decision.

I'm in a better headspace today. Now if I could just get past my nervousness at what the afternoon might bring...

1 comment:

  1. Ooo I hope you get a really good roommate...one you get along with well


Byron does not have Internet access. Pariahblog.com posts are sent from his cell by way of a secure service especially for prisoners' use. We do read him your comments, however, and he enjoys hearing your thoughts very much.