Thinking about my Friends, Inmates | Christopher Warren

Hey guys! I hope everyone had as good of an Easter as possible.

My name is Chris and you might remember my last post about COVID-19 and the city of San Francisco. I am Noah’s friend, and was released from prison about four months ago and have documented my journey looking for work and going to church for the first time. And I even got to meet Morgan and Jordan and spend some time together discussing #whatsnext.

Since we last talked, I have moved home.

Yup. I’m officially a boomerang: that is a 37-year-old millennial moved back in with his parents! And while for most of my cohorts they are distressed about this type of situation, I am thrilled. It is good to be with family after over 4,000 days of absence. It has been fun to share some prison cooking in the flesh instead of handwritten recipes, and watch church online for Easter Sunday with my Mom. 

Yesterday I was jumping rope.

I like to jump rope between sets of other training exercises like push-ups or curls or shoulder presses. And there I am, jumping, with my ankle monitor flapping in the wind and grinding down my skin and it comes to me: those poor dudes inside.

My heart sank to my gut. I stopped jumping and I looked up. Blue sky, a redwood tree, squirrels, and a bird.

I looked down and to the right: a swimming pool, memories.

And I thought of Noah, and my friends, and the 2.3 million Americans in prisons, jails, and detention centers at this very moment. And this moment in history, they find themselves in an utterly horrible situation.

Just so you know what it is like for them right now: they are completely powerless to help themselves, they are in worse conditions than you could possibly imagine unless you have lived in institutional or wartime environments, and the little they had – they’ve lost. 

And for them, the curve isn’t being bent. There isn’t hope for them that May 1st is the end.

Right now there is a room with 12 men in it in South Dakota. Packed. They can’t go anywhere. The TV rooms are closed. The chow hall is closed. The education programs are closed. They are sitting there and their minds are running wild and tensions are climbing with each sack lunch they get tossed in their direction. And here I am, jumping rope, looking at the blue sky, and a pool. 

As military units get deployed to federal prisons, and as more get sick and die inside, I can’t help but think: only by grace, I am at home right now.

Only by grace am I having dinner with my parents right now. I do not deserve this type of mercy when my brothers of a year ago are under such a burden. 

Then I am reminded it’s not just them. It’s the free families that are losing loved ones to death with no one able to visit them and be by their side. Its employees and waiters and barbers who have lost their job and cannot pay rent. The homeless who have no way to follow the social distancing guidelines and who find food banks empty with long lines and people who were never in those lines before.

And I realize the burden is shared. But My heart hurts for those still incarcerated because my life was so recently their life, and I could easily still be in their place. My original release date was April 24th, 2020 and I should still be there with them, but for the First Step Act of 2019. 

But since January 20th, 2020, I was in San Francisco, I waited tables, and now I am home. I have learned WordPress and Buffer, Hootsuite and WooCommerce, Android andd TikTok, Monday, and Slack. Its a different world, and my head is snapping from the data overload – my last phone was a Blackberry getting its emails from an enterprise server hosted on-site with my company because servers were still hosted on-site….and today my twelve-year-old is showing me how to make sure I put #over30 when I show off after learning the most recent tutorial.

I remember telling Morgan and Jordan that day: ‘if I had this kind of tech then, I would’ve gotten life’. 

I smile and shake my head. The world is crazy fast and in eleven years a lot changed and science fiction became reality. In our tech and in our diseases. In our polarity. I remind myself: the human essence is unchanged.

Good is better than evil. We are more alike than we are different.

And our new connectivity helps me empathize and feel others’ pain and joys with greater gravity. 

I pick up the jump rope. I say a prayer for Noah and the inmates and friends still behind the fences and at the camps and in the jails and everyone else I selfishly had not thought of. 

And look to the pool, look to the sky, and begin to jump rope.

From Northern California with Love,

 

Christopher Warren


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