The next time I actually smile is when I’m walking out these prison doors, in clothes that affirm my gender, into the arms of the people I love. The next time I’ll smile I’ll be free.

Right now I’m intense and focused, right now I’m determined I’m going home. I’ve been fighting for 10 years against the mistakes of my past, unraveling all that I’ve knotted. I smiled when I was found releasable, at that moment, at that milestone I exhaled and patted everyone around me on the back because together we came this far. As a team of determined love we came this far. Now we just have a final stretch, a little more work to do, we have dig a little deeper. One last milestone to go.

And I’m fighting like hell to get there. I’ll smile then. I’ll ease up then. I’ll breath then.

But until I walk out that door…

Prison has made me fiercely resilient. Dealing with DOC for 10 years has made me highly perseverant, highly focused, because if you want anything here, you better be prepared to fight for it. And I’ve gotten a lot. I’ve earned a lot. I mean, a lot.

Now, my eyes are locked, my jaw is set, my body and mind are in sync. My lungs feel great my legs are chalked full of energy, my body is ready to persevere anything. Any hill, any mountain, any pace. I’m ready and my spirit is strong, the Universe is on my side and my spirit is guiding me into that.

I’ll smile when I get there. Until then, all my smiles are warnings.

I’ll smile, genuinely smile the day I walk out that door.

With Love
Ruth Utnage