Hampton Roads Regional Jail, Immigration Wing
I met the Professor today. Time intended for this to happen on my first full day into this new home of mine. He wandered among the rest of the weary inmates but rarely said a thing. I noticed him pacing about the place, watching me write diligently in my notebook and approached me only when he knew I would be receptive. The teachers of this world hide inside of the walking pools of humanity disguised as students because they still consider themselves to be on the path of learning.
They call him the professor because before being jailed for a DUI and then never released, he taught philosophy at a nearby university. He’s been fighting his case now for fifteen months. Because he was born in Iran and is in a position of influence here in the states, the Professor stood no chance of getting through this easily. He’s been in the states twenty years, attained his doctorate in Maryland and now has a beautiful home filled with a wife and a sixteen year old daughter who just graduated from high school.
If the professor had been born here, he wouldn’t have even been jailed in the first place… who’s ever heard of someone doing this kind of time over a first offense? Any citizen of an enemy state is immediately targeted within our boundaries, no matter how American they have become. They are picked straight out of our populace and placed into experiences that remind them just how alien they are and that they are not without monitoring. No matter what this man was worth to society on the outside, in the government’s eyes, he is just a few pages of history that can now be filed into the ever growing population of the detained.
This is our shared reality, immigrant or not, and must be used as any other opportunity must. We began our initial conversation with education because I mentioned my writing was meant to continue my own. Then, the conversation skipped to innate human nature, the human condition, societal empathy and the analyses of all this from a perspective slightly off the common path.
Life seems a mere repetition of our emotions played out in intricately different scenarios every day. Man is the only animal without a simple purpose, we have obviously conquered simple survival and procreation and are on to the more complex aspects of consciousness and progress. Soon our minds will outgrow our bodies, this will be our next step in the cycle of evolution, one of the mind and of the infinitely expanding connectivity we share with each other. I believe in our lifetime we will see all seven billion of us linked to all of our pasts and forever into our future. We record more and more of the human experience with every passing day.
Our talk lasted for hours. It ended the way it started, with a handshake and a smile.
Now showered and clean, the dirty light in my room is allowing my thoughts to spill out from the day. The air is settling in my international abode for the unlucky fucks of the world. We have settled ourselves into the cracks of freedom’s foundations, made a nest and are now searching for comfort and growth within the embrace of the relatively damned. Regardless of the situation, we find time to laugh, to share stories of love and pain, of our fight and of some surrenders, we share to strengthen because essentially… we’re all on the same banana boat.
This very unconventional jail somehow fits perfectly into the formation of my values, of my unfettered chase for knowledge in the most unlikely of circumstances. I succumb to the fact that this is simply a plan written in some unknown space between the molecules ever expanding into chaos, into eventual nothingness. I have landed in the most cosmopolitan prison in the world, a breeding ground for the melting together of disdain, of disgust and of general ideas generated from the underbelly of this society about this society. The wider my eyes and ears allow logic’s spectrum to unfold itself, the more vivid this whole picture becomes.
Our home here in unit Z pod 4 reminds me of New York in it’s diversity. We have my friend Lucas from Brasil, then there is Columbia and Panama and of course the Professor. Most of us here will never learn each others’ names identifying each other solely by our nationalities unless there are too many from one place, like the Hondurans and the Mexicans. Of course, I’m the only Uruguayan here so naturally my name is Uruguay.
Today I found great solace in the presence of the Professor. An immense respect for him is growing quickly in my head, as is for a few others that were curious enough to approach me today. I think we all need people to relate to in this world, without each other we are nothing, less than nothing, we are the amoeba unable to duplicate itself, doomed to leave not even a reminder that we once were alive.
All my thoughts and connections are necessary right now, it’s all needed for sanity, stability, some sense of grounding! Need to figure out how the hell I can get more books in here. At least I have Ulysses. Joyce is definitely a slow read too, thank god! I love his points but his language isn’t really that enjoyable unless you are in the odd state of creative delirium where you can ingest such unique prose. It takes a lot of work to follow his brush strokes but they explode with color when you open the seeds of his thought in your mind. His language is carnal and unmeditated yet thoroughly laid out in a woven pattern of romanticism and intellectualism.
In one way or another we leak it out of us. Whether with a conversation on everything atop a metal table or with a pen over page after page of visceral expression, we are not whole without our bonds to guide us through it all. The best make it seem effortless.