Deja Vu Read Count : 125

Category : Blogs

Sub Category : Motivation
The wind blew down Silver Dancer Drive from the North. It moved like a breath past Elder Johnson’s house and over the grass in Mrs. Villianovella’s yard where she looked up as a man pushing a garbage can on wheels rattled his way down the sidewalk in her direction. With a pole in his hand and a grabber on the end he periodically reached out snagging a piece of litter and in one smooth motion delivered it to his can. His movement, smooth and practiced with hardly any pause, he progressed down the street. From where I was standing, I could see that Mrs. Villianovella’s smile was firmly in place and it made me smile as I watched the breeze lift her beautiful auburn hair from her shoulders and playfully toss it into the air. But at the same time, I also noticed that her arm went out protectively in front of her son as a bar to keep him sheltered as the man made his way by. Before the man on the clean-team reached the front of her house, she moved carefully as though trying not to appear rude or without too much haste. Though she never looked directly at the man I could tell her eyes never really left him but as he passed she peers over her shoulder, her mouth moving in some muttered words as she hustles her child inside and closes her front door. I watched as the man made his way securing the dust mask that was covering his face like a barrier between him and whatever dangers the air may bring. He was so wrapped up in his own thoughts and duties that he did not even noticed her fear or paranoia. As the man continued walking impassively along, I thought of that fear. It is so like the reflection I had looking out from another window not too long ago. There are no bars on this window and the view does not include razor lined fences or tall iron gates, but the feeling is similar in so many ways. The root of this social distancing is fear of contact though in prison the fear of contact was not a literal worry, in the sense of touching someone that you might risk catching a disease, but the fear is more of bouncing off another’s anger or facing an attitude you are not entirely prepared to deal with. Still, the similarities of the two types or social distancing are uncanny. A man learns to guard himself or suffer for it. As I let out a sigh the warm air from my mouth sends a brief mist clouding the window glass pane which disappears almost as quickly as it began.

They have a saying in prison: Confinement will either make you or break you.  See, not everyone is able to handle prolonged solitude. A quick mind will find things to do to occupy his heart as the months and years rattle by like dice shaken in a cup and tossed onto the floor. I remember how excited I was the first time I saw the library cart rattling down the corridor to my cell, laden with books, magazines, and other reading material. 

How many can I get?”, I asked as I peered at the cart noticing there was not much to choose from.
Four is the limit no matter what item you choose, and I’ll be back next week to collect them”, he responded in a gruff voice. 

As the sour old man made a gesture to leave, I quickly chose two of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and two novels. I grabbed my small stack of books and sat down on my bunk looking at the titles I had collected. The first novel was “The Sword Of Shannara” by Terry Brooks. I set it aside and grabbed the next novel, “Ride The Waves” a collaboration by two unknown writers. Then I picked up the two encyclopedias; one was the letter “D” and the other was the letter “P”. I decided to flip through the encyclopedia with the letter P first where I came across an article on Edgar Allan Poe.  I began reading and I was fascinated by who he was and his writings. I could not get enough of this article and read it repeatedly several times. I spent days pouring over it. His poem that spoke the most to me was titled ‘The Raven’. When I read this, I was completely captivated by the rhythm and cadence of his phrasing, the logic of his words and the pure entertainment I got from reading his work. I began to use it as a template for my own creations. I was inspired so much that I bought several tablets of paper from the commissary and decided to give it a shot. Writing quickly became my new passion. You adapted, plain and simple and regardless of the total madness my world had become, I hurriedly snatched up this chance to have something, anything to do with my time. I spent so many days staring at the walls of my cell, inspecting the cracks and graffiti, and just basically spinning with no direction or purpose. I was merely existing, then writing became my saving grace. 

Ever since the social distancing order took place, the days and weeks slip by with an almost surreal rapidness. The feeling of Deja Vu sends a shiver through my being.  My present seems eerily similar to what is was like back then, though only in a roundabout way. The way minutes seem to be squeezed like a hand clenching a damp sponge, how it feels when you ball it up in your fist, pressing it into  your palm, squeezing it and milking the fingers in every direction, just trying to get a drop of something from it. Time seems to crawl even though I’m no longer watching dust motes floating in the air, or counting cracks in the walls, this time being confined to my house reminds me of those days. I would never expect to be reduced to such mindless activities ever again, but I do notice how my life has slowed down to a measured trickling pace. Once again, I find myself staring through a window, quietly watching as the man makes his way along the sidewalk, around the corner, and out of sight. He left behind a street cleared of whatever loose debris that was there at the same time taking away the breeze of memory that was in my mind. Even with the uncertainty and fear that is sweeping across an entire world, I realize there is still so much I can be grateful for. Before the Covid19, I would wake up, do my ablutions, have a quick bite to eat, pack a lunch, and be out the door and on my way to work before three quarters of an hour had passed. Some habits I obtained from doing time have stuck with me. Basically, I hit the ground running, every day, and the skills I learned to stay positively occupied, focused and driven, still keep me involved and balanced to this day. I pour myself into my work with a passion the same as I do for my writing. 

See, I am not new to Writer’s Outlet. In fact, I have been a part of this community for over two years, but not many people here know my story or have read what happened to me as a troubled youth. Because of the poor choices I had made at the age of 18 I ended up serving a life sentence. What happened was, I blindly followed a friend of mine to steal money from a gas station and during the robbery my friend shot the attendant, several times, and he died. Because of that foolishness I had to pay the price and was sent to prison for the crime of murder. When I discovered writing I found a way to analyze my life in a way that took me beyond the razor lined fences and I went after it, hard. Even after spending thirty-two years behinds bars, I see some similarities to what I faced there and what I face now here with this ‘stay-at-home’ order. I trust that this order will in no way hold me the length of time as my previous incarceration, but I do find this small taste of solitude a pleasant opportunity to reconnect with my passion for writing.

This is the reality of where the world is at now: anyone who is employed and is not considered essential to the operation of a city, state, or private sector has either already had the call or is waiting with a certain panic for their ringtone to announce that their companies can no longer pay them. No one will really know of any security or assurance of what will happen to them without the income their jobs once provided and for many, the time spent in solitude spirals the fear around them in their minds and in their hearts like the skittering breeze of uncertainty. It is a scary thought, but it is the ugly truth. Having said that, let’s keep a positive mind and not let fear of the unknown stop us from living our lives to the fullest. Even though things may look rather bleak right now it is still not the end of the world. This storm will eventually pass, the sun will start shining again, and if you’re lucky you may even catch the rainbow at the end.

As a writer of this community I would like to point out to all of you that writing can be a way of escape from what is happening in the world and your writing can be used to inspire others to rise above the circumstances plaguing us in a positive way. I would like to encourage all of you to keep on writing and let your voices be heard. With that said, my fingers twitch and the slats of the blind snap back into place with a clack. I turn from the window with a contented smile on my face knowing for a fact that in spite of what is happening, I know that I have a voice and my voice will be heard.

Comments

  • Jared DeMoss

    Jared DeMoss

    This was a very interesting look into a unique perspective of the lockdown. Thank you for sharing. Great job.

    May 03, 2020

  • Good to have you back, Carl! This is an outstanding piece of work. Well done and please keep writing 💜

    May 03, 2020

  • Linford Ayub

    Linford Ayub

    wow! This is so inspiring. It's fluent and well organized. kudos👏👏

    May 22, 2020

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