While this post neither addresses, nor endorses, the intricacies of the prison system, it is the focal point for this post.
The news of our daily lives become the centerpiece of our daily conversations. High ranking favorites often include relationship sagas, financial epics, home improvement conquests, entertainment analogs, health chronicles and personal heroics. Like any of us, we talk and write about the adventures, events and characters filling our lives. Having friends in jail has brought forward a new sense of awareness. An awareness about the value and the impact of simple images; often ones taken for granted. Those images frequently marking the events and the familiar backdrop of our daily lives; such as, trees, roads, ducks, hail, clouds, variety in architectural structures . . . the constantly lost to find salt and pepper shakers . . . the various colors and shapes of personal care products . . . the variety pack of clothing styles and colors . . . The very things strikingly absent in the lives of incarcerated inmates; caged inside metal doors.
Writing to a loved one, a child at camp or a get well card seems easy, often effortless. Yet writing to someone behind prison walls somehow feels different, even daunting. Really, what do you say? How is day going? What’s been happening in your life since we last saw each other? Do you share your latest outdoor outing, vacation plans or updates on the mysterious soap slugging vampire rampaging your bathroom? Knowing too, people are living where no matter where they are.
Postcards addressed to me were the best. Magical. Personal. A perfect way to feel grown up with having to read through the drudgery of letters without pictures. Postcards embraced the magic and wonderment of faraway places.
Working as a Social Worker behind prison walls, I heard the stories about how inmates felt abandoned and forgotten. People I knew found themselves behind prison bars.
Remembering the magic of brightly colored notes, I hit local truck stops. I asked truck driving friends to do the same. Soon postcards from across the country arrived in droves.
Armed with my favorite pen, I filled the backs with short stories. A few more with accolades of my days’ events.
Weeks later envelopes of faded white paper filled graphite encrypted messages arrive. Messages about the story behind the postcards. How they now decorated stark, prison walls. Later becoming a gathering point for inmates to connect and to share their stories about the stories of postcards.
I great reminder to me about the power of story and the powerful impact of a single story.
Until Next Time . . . Change stories – Changing lives.