I was a little less nervous going into our visit this time, but still on edge. I hate having to see my friend in clothes she doesn’t want to wear, her movement limited, her freedom denied. I hate having to talk to COs.
We each bought a book at the Joliet Barnes & Noble to bring LeLe, the titles included:
Memoirs of a Geisha, Slaughterhouse Five, Men Explain Things To Me, and Assata: An Autobiography.
Alisha has always remarked that she loves to read and has been devouring books while inside.
Our drive was much the same, we made a depressing game out of spotting the various Confederate flags we saw (in the form of bumper stickers, gas station paraphernalia etc), we made sure to turn our respective t-shirts (which were emblazoned with various FTP slogans) inside out in preparation for screening and we swapped stories about travel, school, clients, people we don’t fuck with.
We arrived to Logan Correctional just before 2:30pm. We gathered the books, and doubled checked our clothes. Upon entering the foyer, which was just as dingy and dilapidated as it was on our previous visit, we were told the last visitation line had gone out and we would not be admitted. Cate and I freaked out. Maybe a little too much. The others calmed us down, well calmed me down, Cate was still fucking pissed. I was calm enough to ask what this meant for the rest of the day. Visitation is supposed to be from 9am-8pm. The CO told us maybe if we came back by 4:30pm we would be admitted. They can do this. They can keep you from your loved ones on a whim, because they feel like it. We didn’t have a choice; we’d just traveled three hours from home. We were so close to her and yet there were still gates, solid metal doors, chain-link, razor wire, shotguns, and their bullshit policies between us.
We left, angrily. There was a lot of screaming in the parking lot, in the car, in the fast food joint we holed-up in for a couple hours…We didn’t even know if going back guaranteed a visit.
We waited. We went back.
It took over an hour to process us, even though we were already in the system. Once through with full searches and screening we waited for about 40 minutes in the visitation room (disgusting as ever, but not as cold as we expected it to be) before they brought Alisha to see us.
The visit, like last time, flew by. We bought snacks, shot the shit and caught up on her new housing unit (which has been such a huge improvement for her). She was bright and bubbly, her usual self, that’s so amazing to me. I don’t know if I could be such a positive person. Alisha always exudes care and consideration. I would totally understand if she cried or ranted the entire time, I’d expect that even. But, she never does. She talks about getting free, her desire to work with animals, to go to school, to organize. She talks about the high heels her feet miss, and the femme accessories she craves, and creates substitutes for inside. She asks to see all our fingernails, what varnish is on them, what designs. She talks about the nail polish someone made and how she created the perfect Chanel logo for them on their toes. We all collectively “yaaasssss!” These light moments feel good. Seeing her laugh and smile feels good. We talk shop, we talk organizing, we talk about the latest article that’s being written about her case. Cate and Erica explain memes, it goes right over mine and Alisha’s heads. Aaron sweet talks the CO on duty to check the other vending machines for the snacks Alisha wants. She likes salads but of course the machines haven’t been restocked so we make due with other things. She can’t eat much at regular mess hall because the food has been making her sick. She said it’s basically all soy-based stuff and garbage. Not surprising.
And just like that, these assholes in uniform decide when we have to stop talking with our friend. We all hug, a lot. The COs take us away and LeLe’s gotta wait there until they release her. We’re angry, again. I cry in the car and it’s really late when we get back to the city.