When I woke up, I knew Sunday was not going to go well. I hadn't slept much — awake for about four hours in the middle of the night. I never do this, but I erroneously took two instead of one of my morning prescription pills. Damn! I knew this would make me drowsy — on top of little sleep.
I put on a new pair of slacks and a matching top in olive green and a brown jacket. Last month, when visiting Travis, I had to wear clothes from the prison visitor’s center because I wore blue. Blue’s not allowed. On signing in, yesterday, at Folsom State Prison, the guard said to me, “You know, you can’t come in wearing green.”
I forgot about green. I’m failing visiting prison 101. “Really? I had to change clothes last month. Green? Really?”
Back across the parking lot to the visitor’s center. I was given a black sweatshirt and grey pants. I liked last month’s outfit better.
Finally, I checked in at the visitor’s desk inside the prison at noon. At 12:30 p.m., I approached a guard and asked, “Was Travis Christian called? I’ve been waiting for half an hour.”
“He should have been called. I’ll check.”
Ten minutes later, Travis walked into the visiting area. “I’m sorry,” I said, “this visit has gotten really mixed up. Let’s buy you a sandwich. I’ll have to leave at 1:15 p.m.” (The visitor’s center closes at 2 p.m.)
Travis gave me a big hug. “I’m good,” he said. “I feel happy. I wrote new music and a song. This morning I sang it at church and everyone really liked it.”
We caught up. Travis has the same cellie has last month. “We get along well,” he said. “Lawrence is gone most of the day. He attends a drug and alcohol class all morning. In the afternoon, he works in the kitchen for six hours. So I have my cell to myself most of the time.”
“How much does Lawrence get paid working in the kitchen?”
“He’s paid eight cents an hour.”
Eight cents an hour? This sounds ridiculous to me.
“Do you like having your cell to yourself?”
“I do. I can study for my history and computer classes. I can write my songs and music. I can work out.”
Travis put down his sandwich and turned toward me in his chair. “I want to ask you something. I’ve been thinking about this a lot.”
Hmm? What might be coming?
“Dede, are you saved? Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?”
Big question. What do I say? I have to be honest. “Travis, I believe there are many ways to pursue a spiritual life. So no, I’ve not ‘been saved.’”
I think this answer concerns Travis. He likes me. He wants me to be “saved.” We discuss other religions. That people have choices. That maybe one size does not fit all. Travis is not deterred. He asks another question.
“Dede, will you right now, right here, with me, accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?”
“Travis, I want to pursue God in my own way. I hope you understand.”
Travis doesn’t finish his sandwich. Usually he chows down. Later, his mother, Kathy, will tell me that Travis didn’t eat much last week when she visited him. “He’s on a new medication for ADHD and it affects appetite. Did he seem manic to you?”
No, Travis didn’t seem manic to me, but he seemed different. Kathy is concerned about his med change. She talked to Travis’s prison managers. She told them, “He’s never been diagnosed with ADHD. I don’t believe he has ADHD.” Travis, however, wants to take the ADHD medication. It’s out of Kathy’s hands.
I had to leave by 1:15 p.m. to get back to the visitor’s center to claim my clothes. We took a quick photo and hugged goodby. Hope next month Travis is still “good.” And still “feels happy.” Hope the new medication doesn’t complicate matters.