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Suburban Island

Friday, Apr. 08, 2005, 12:33 a.m.

QUESTION: What are the visiting hours?

WHAT I LEARNED: Love is blind.

Since last time I posted, I have found myself busy with the criminal justice system. One of my friends wound up getting arrested and thrown in jail breaking a protective order. Its a case of committing one of the easiest crimes in the world marrying badly. This is what happens sometimes when all your family and friends say dont marry that woman - and you do it anyway. Eventually, in these situations there is a good possibility that while you are running through the flower fields of your infatuation, others may be getting a better view of your beloved than you might be able to do. Its the blinders. Its easy to put them on and just run willy-nilly through the daisies and down the aisle. In these situations, you may beat the odds, confound your friends and family, and be blissfully happy, but Id say the odds are against that when so many people around you have so many concerns about your lady love. Instead, you may find yourself estranged, with a protective order in place, and half your personal possessions gone with the wind before the divorce papers are even filed.

However, live and learn. So that is how I found myself visiting an adult detention center this past weekend.

Have you ever tried to visit someone in jail? Its quite an experience. The building is like a fortress. The floor where visitors check in smells like disinfectant with a touch of vomit. Upstairs where you sit in hard plastic chairs and wait to see your unfortunate friend, you can real feel the solid isolation of the place. The whole building seems to hum a big cold still ominous kind of hum like there is no day or night or season. Just time humming. Not in a nice way. Everything feels thick the walls, the windows everything.

I went over twice. Both times I wound up not being able to see my friend. I was sorry about that but still - I was glad to get out of that place and back outside. Glad to go back home in my own car, eat carryout, hang out with my kids, and do ordinary things. What I discovered is that there are plenty of rules about visiting, phone calls, medicine, and everything in between for the inmates and the visitors. There doesn't seem to be any flexibility about it either. I like flexibility. This experience made me realize how much we take for granted everyday our ordinary freedoms. Even with the demands, the bosses, the kids, the overwork, the bills, the chores, at least we have some flexibility to do it our way. It may be just getting a cup of coffee when we want it, or an extra hour sleep, or a phone call to a friend, or a walk around the block but there it is freedom in a nutshell. I appreciate that a little more today.

And my friend? Hes doing well and is perhaps a little wiser if a little worse for wear.

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