In telling his story, and our story, I guess that my story, to the extent of how I fell in love with an inmate is relevant, and a necessary piece. There's plenty of "online" prison support websites, of which I belong to two of. I so often see the "I fell in love with my penpal" or "I think I'm falling for him" messages. But, when reading these messages, there's almost always a reference to how things will be when the inmate gets out. This is almost always an indication of troubled waters ahead. Anytime we start living in the future, and getting wrapped up in our dreams to the extent that we quit living our "now", we stop living our lives. And to me, that's worse than being in prison. I guess some don't see the distinction between planning for the future, and living in it. Alright, on to my story of how I got here.
When describing myself, the first thing that comes to mind is "unconventional". No way around that one. I never, not for one second, wanted the white picket fence, with 2.3 kids that I stay home with and raise and a husband. I always dreamed of finding a career I am passionate about, and maybe finding a nice guy who would fit around my schedule. Commitment is probably the scariest word in my vocabulary. My best friend in the world is a man, who is also single, and also never been married. We have been best friends since we were 8. Last year, in one of our many "searching the meaning of life" conversations, he said something to me I will never forget. He said "You always seek out men who are not available to you 100%, be it physically or emotionally". I thought so hard about that, and realized it was true. And, oddly, this epiphany didn't bother me...at all. I guess I've always been happy with being in a relationship that fits into my schedule, and on my terms. I've fallen in love with four men in my life, a lawyer, a stockbroker, a cowboy and an inmate. The stockbroker and the cowboy led me to where I am today. The stockbroker taught me everything about what I don't want in life. The cowboy taught me everything that I do want. And the inmate taught me who I want it with. And all four of these men were/are, as my best friend says, "not available 100%". So, now I know what I don't want, what I want, and who I want it with. That summary represents about 15 years of my life, and some painful life lessons. As I'm sure is the case with just about everyone. The decision to "go it alone" (at least physically, meaning without my man by my side) has consequences, and ups and downs. The upside is that I never have to compromise on the little things in life like what movie to rent or which family to spend the holidays with. The downside is that I don't get to do the things that I love with the man that I love. There are no romantic weekend road trips, or evenings going to the ballet, or a nice quiet evening at home. The consequences of my decision to "go it alone" are that I have no one to share the big and small, and sometimes scary responsibilities that life throws us all. There are sacrifices to loving a man in prison. For example, I love camping. A lot. A weekend in my tent, with my family, and my dog, and a beautiful lake fills my soul. And since I have been with KC, I have not gone camping once. I spend about ten hours a week writing letters to him. My job dominates my time, and so much of my weekends consist of him, and taking care of my house. Glamorous? Nope. Necessary? Yes. In all the time I spend writing to him, and taking care of his business (and trust me, this takes a lot of time) I never think about what a "chore" this is. I never get frustrated in having to do these things. Another thing that rarely pops into my mind is what our life will be like when he gets out in 17 years. I suppose once in a great while, I think momentarily about it, as everyone does, but these aren't thoughts that consume my life. Tomorrow is promised to no one. So, in between the chaotic times of a busy life, when I am afforded the solitude and time to think about our relationship, it is with amazement that I can't help but notice what has happened. I realize that KC has turned me into a wife (to be) who's spare time consists of taking care of our family matters, and that I compromise some of my wants for the needs of our family. Our unconventional family. Everything that I thought I didn't want in a partner/relationship ended up being what I have with a man that is not physically available to me. The biggest irony is that, for the first time in my life I have found the man that I do want to be 100% physically and emotionally available. So the compromise now is that I live the life of the dutiful wife with an absent husband. The reward is always our visits. When I get to indulge in "our" time. So, I take a few days off work, leave behind my job, my house, my dog, my family and friends and I get on that plane filled with such excitement to visit the man who gives me the strength, love and support to live this nontraditional life. I feel so free when I go to visit him, and it fills my soul the way many things used to. My visits to see him also give me the feeling of excitement and adventure that has always fueled my desire to pursue the "unconventional" path that I have chosen.
So, to be in the position to be happily in a relationship with a man in prison it took many external and internal forces slamming together to form a perfect storm. To fall in love with this man, it took 15+ years of life/love lessons, and coming to terms with being nontraditional in almost every way. It took a very patient man in prison capable of breaking down the walls around my heart that three other men helped me build. And, perhaps most importantly, it took his story, his commitment to transform his soul and his strength to pursue the right path in an environment where that is a liability, to restore my faith in love.