I walk into work awe struck and befuddled at times. With a sense of gratitude, faith, hope, trust, fear and optimism I walk through 5 secure gates and/or fences to my office. I am honest with myself, but I live in a cloud of, as one colleagues puts it, “act as if”. I live in this “act as if”. For me it is a normal day in any neighborhood, but this hood is closed off to the everyday citizen. Not because this is privileged ground, but because this is a consequence of possible disrespect to other people and their neighborhoods. Yet, I am lucky to be here. I am one of the chosen few, and as with my whiteness, gender identity, youth and education I have great responsibility.
The signs and the vibes here are not welcoming: do not talk to inmates in holding cells, no inmate access, present ID before entering, no unauthorized electronics..ect. I have to think that at some point there is a secret handshake somewhere that I will never learn, that is if you were allowed to shake hands (my favorite greeting, I must add). The customs and rituals take time to grasp and internalize, and I have yet to encounter all of them in their complex and simple beauty. I do reserve my sense of wonderment for moments of solitude so I can release a “holy shit” without being seen as “crazy”.
That all said, I am comfortable here. I don’t know how the guys and girls live there, but perhaps with a sense of hope, faith, trust, fear and if we’re lucky optimism…
Find beauty in the simple things. I feel that is one of my more endearing traits.