There was a chill in the air as I walked to my cab. I had been waiting for this moment for 3 years. As I got in and we pulled away from the place I called home, my stomach got queasy and I felt nauseous. As we went down the mountain side, I watched the world go by. When we made a turn, the contents that were in my stomach ended up on the floorboard and a wave of heat hit my face from embarrassment. I got this fear of dread because of the unknown that lay ahead.
We pulled into a tiny town where I sat and waited for hours. I couldn’t understand why I kept getting these looks from people like I had some type of plague. For 3 years I played in my mind what it would be like making my entrance into the world, and in reality it wasn’t anything I could have imagined.
As I sat at Applebee’s super excited to eat my delicious meal, all I could think about was the golden fries, creamy ranch dressing, and the gooey cheesy saucy tortilla burger. These ladies kept staring, making me feel uncomfortable, grouping me into the people who are always coming and going from the prison. Not realizing that they were judging me because I was sitting in greys holding a bag that was red and pink of homemade gifts. That day I realized that my life would never be the same and that people will always judge me.
As I headed to the halfway house in a place I have never been, I was asked “you just got out?” like I was wearing a big banner saying “Look at me, I am fresh out” constantly. I was exhausted by the time I hit Colorado. Plus it was a strange feeling that I was free but yet didn’t want to make any moves because people were watching.
What people don’t understand is that no matter how long you’re away, from the day you reenter society the world starts stereotyping you no matter what you try to do.
Painting by Gwynne Duncan