My cellie is a motormouth. I’m quarantined for some unknown duration and my cellmate can’t stop yapping. He’s like a Chihuahua that got himself into a bag of sugar.

I encourage him to read, which he does…thankfully. But then I get to hear every other line, so I’m reading his book too. Lucky me.

He’s a nice person but I am a self-contained woman. I control my own structure and set my own days. I’ve been down a decade, doing time requires you to have a calmness about you in times when the only control you have is what you think about, everything else is controlled for you. He hasn’t learned that skill yet. I suppose that’s a good thing, nobody should have to adapt to something as inhumane as lockdown, it’s not normal.

It doesn’t change the fact that this…child…is in my cell and won’t stop talking. Today I was watching TV and a commercial came on that featured Joe Montana, I said “I remember when Joe Montana retired from the 49ers” to which he replied “Who does he play for now?”

And he was NOT kidding.

I laughed out loud and right from my gut because it occurred to me just how different our experiences in life have been up to this point. I wonder what it must be like to be stuck in a cell with a trans woman who doesn’t speak to me and when she does she talks about things I have no idea about. As it stands I cannot tell who’s under more stress me or my cellie. He’s a boy in his early 20’s with virtually no life experience except what he’s learned on TV and from idiots in prison. I was married for 11 years before I got locked up, my oldest child is only a few years younger than him, I’m literally old enough to be his momma.

I’d like to say something like “Now I know why some mammals eat their young.” But I won’t, not seriously anyway. I’m a calm spirited woman these days and even though the boy makes my head want to explode some moments, I’m calm. I’m used to being around chaotic minded children, I am in prison among many of them- and worse, just as many work here.

Patience. God bless it.

With Love
Ruth Utnage