by Rob B – prisoner
Here in the penitentiary when guys talk about “going home” they are referring to being released from prison and returning to some sort of residence in the outer world. But for now, in reality, my prison cell is my only home: all 62 square feet of cement splendor.
Accounting for the steel bunk beds, wall-mounted shelving unit, and stainless steel toilet/sink combination, my cellmate and I are left to share an area of usable floor space about the size of a standard yoga mat around which we maneuver to conduct our daily exercise routines and hygiene rituals.
Our cell is kept clean and organized. It smells good and we make sure it stays free of clutter and conflict as it contains all of our personal possessions and politics. This cell is where I lay my head each night and where I awake each day. It is where I meditate, defecate, and communicate through letters to those on the other side of the concrete walls and razor wire. The reality of my situation is that, for now, my community consists of convicts and correctional officers; this prison cell is my home.
When returning to their cell house from chow hall, gymnasium, or exercise yard, most inmates grumble and moan about being locked up in their dungeon or being caged like a dog in a kennel. However, appreciating the power of perspective, I choose to regard returning to my cell as returning to my familiar living quarters: to be “going home”.
After all, everything I have is here in my cell. Everything I create and value is here in my cell. Nearly everything I do will be mindfully done here in my office, den, lounge, library, parlor, pantry, kitchen, dining room, restroom, bedroom…
Thus I have come to consider returning to “lock-back-up” in my cell as “going home” – home to my concrete chrysalis of contemplation, my cement sanctum of serenity, my embassy of equanimity, my world headquarters – for now.