Dear Terry

My best friend is in prison.

I don’t mean CrazyGirl who I love to death and hang out with as much as I possibly can. I mean my best friend. Since high school. He is the only person I still talk to (besides a random facebook post here and there) that I have known that long.

I don’t talk about him very much because honestly? It just bums me the f**k out.

He was the one person in my life who stuck up for me. Always. I got teased a lot in school. I was fat and socially awkward. Living in Florida, being biracial didn’t help much either. I was too black to hang out with the white kids and too white to hang out with the black kids. The only groups in my high school that weren’t segregated (by choice, not by mandate) were the theater kids and the jocks/cheerleaders. Obviously not a jock or a cheerleader and while theater intrigued me, being so big kind of excluded me from that crowd too.

He knew me. He was the only person who ever really saw me back then. While he teased me himself (good-naturedly), he never did it in front of other people or to embarass me or to be mean. When other people teased me he’d get pissed at them. Then he’d get pissed at me for not sticking up for myself. I love him, always and forever, he is stuck in my heart like some annoying piece of glue that just won’t come off.

When he was 18 (and I was 16), he robbed a McDonalds. With 2 of his “friends.” And a BB gun. Before they opened. I think they ended up with a few hundred dollars. It was stupid. Like REALLY stupid. And he got caught. And his so-called friends turned on him and he was charged with armed robbery and kidnapping because they moved the 2 employees that were there more than 100 feet without their approval or something equally stupid.

He’s black. And from a lower income household. And it was Florida.

He got 25 years. At age 18. His “friends?” Not sure, less than 2 years I think for one of them and the other one was a minor and got no hard time at all.

We were intimate at some point before he got locked up. Never really dated, just more like friends with benefits. I loved him. In my youth, I thought that I was truly in love with him. After he went away, our relationship changed somewhat, became more love and less friend. At some point I was planning on marrying him. Over the years our love has morphed, matured as I have and as he has. Awhile Iafter I moved up here I realized that while I have always and will always care deeply for him, he wasn’t The One. My feelings for him were deeper than my feelings for any other man up until The Zen Master but as I grew, I knew that it wasn’t that kind of love anymore. I loved him dearly, first as a friend, then a lover and now? I love him as my brother.

His family doesn’t contact him much. They rarely visit or write and don’t accept his calls 99% of the time. They have pretty much written him off as a lost cause. I used to write him sporadically, I’ve never been good at letter writing. Which is weird because I can write blog posts all day. But to sit down and actually write him a letter? Nope. MY parents have pretty much adopted him. I think my dad always wanted a son and the fact that my friend got SO screwed by the Florida justice (HA!) system just pisses my dad off to no end. My dad is black and knows how crappy it can get but he’s also well-educated and well-spoken and came from a family where both parents were college educated and was able to adjust, even in the 60’s. I think my dad is angry because if my friend had been white or if he had a better background, it wouldn’t have played out like this. It’s been decided that when my friend finally gets out, he is going to come live up here with my parents.  By then they’ll be older and need the help anyway. If he stays in Florida he’d be back in prison within a year. There’s nothing left for him there, no support, no job, no respect, nothing. Up here he has support, a new start. A new life, just like me. I hope it works out for him as well as it did for me.

I talk to him occasionally. My parents pre-pay for a block of time for collect calls so he calls their house on a regular basis and if I’m there when he calls, we’ll pick up right where we left off like it hasn’t been weeks or even months. I think about him every day. I know he gets pissed at me that I don’t write but for some reason, I just can’t. It’s almost like I don’t know what to say. When I talk to him on the phone it’s fine, I could gab for hours if they’d let us. But everytime I sit down to write him a letter, I stare at an empty word document or notebook page for a few minutes, then write; “Dear Terry,” and stare another few minutes and then I just give up. I feel guilty but at least I get to talk to him on the phone occasionally and my mom and dad write to him fairly often now. When he gets out, I’ll be on the next flight to Florida to pick him up. Getting him is the only time I will ever go back there.

My friend is a good person. He never did drugs, never hurt anybody, was loyal to his friends and loved his family. He just did something stupid. And there he sits until 2020. He’ll be over 40. Princess Punk will be in college (I hope). Things will be hard for him but he will have a place to stay and family that loves him.

Because even though I may never write, I will always stick up for him too.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

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