Jason drove me up, with Piper, Walker, and Bryer along for the ride. I was hesitant to take the 3 littlest kids because of all their questions when they actually drop me off, getting an actual visual of the jail, and having to say good-bye. It's different than picking me up like they have done before with the good news of having me home. No little kids should have to say good-bye to their mom when she goes to jail. I'm sure Jason will deal with the questions on the way home. How many days? Why does she have to go? How will she get home?
On the way up, I voxed with Hunter and Sawyr (a walkie talkie app). They weren't responding to my first few messages of "Make sure you clean up after yourself while I'm gone."
"Don't forget to say prayers in the morning before you leave for school."
"The clothes in the basket are clean. Please put away what's yours."
I sent them a message that two boys would be more interested in.
"Are you hungry for chocolate covered almonds?"
Almost instantly I got a message back. (surprise, surprise!) I played with them for a good 25 minutes, cutting out the part of the message where I told them where the chocolate covered almonds were. "Go into my room and look in the..."
Hunter: "Mom, you're cutting out."
Me: "Go into my room."
Hunter: "Ya, we got that part."
Me: "Go into my room and look in the..."
Hunter: "Mom, you're cutting out again. Just tell us where."
Me: "Look in the..."
(Jason and I were cracking up laughing by this point, thinking of them so desperate to find out where we hid the goods.)
Hunter: "Mom, you're cutting out too bad. Just tell us where they are." (Sawyr groaning in the background, suddenly starving for chocolate covered almonds.)
Me: (in slow motion talking) "The chocolate covered almonds are in the..."
Hunter: "Mom, make sure you don't push the button again until you're done talking."
Me: "Is this better if I don't push it until I'm all the way done talking like this?"
Hunter: "Yes. Now just tell us where they are."
Me: "Walk into my bedroom. Turn left..."
Hunter: "Ya, then what?"
Me: "Turn left."
Hunter: "I got that part. Where do I go after I turn left?"
Me: "To find the almonds."
Hunter: "Where are the almonds?"
Me: "Go into my room and look in the...."
(We were now laughing so hard, that the thought of going to jail had completely escaped my brain.)
Me: "We are going to loose service pretty..." "I hope you..." "this before..." They are in..." Let me know if you can't..."
Jason predicted a phone call any minute as a way to seal the deal in real conversation before we lost cell service. In less than 30 seconds, my phone rang, and everyone in the car started giggling - including Bryer, who always laughs when everyone else is laughing.
I could hardly tell Sawyr where to go to find the chocolate covered almonds. I knew they'd waited long enough and could just see them devouring them as soon as they got a hold of them just because it was such a pain to find out where they were in the first place.
I told Sawyr, "Go into my room and turn left. Then go back out of my room and into Dad's office. They are behind his computer."
Sawyr: (totally confused) "Why did you tell me to go into your room to begin with?"
Me: "Did you get my messages to clean up after yourself and say prayers before school?
Sawyr: "Yes. What does that have to do with the chocolate though?"
More laughter as we said good-byes and I could leave my boys on a good note - knowing they had also got my mom-messages to clean up after themselves, say prayers, and put their laundry away... all for the sake of some chocolate covered almonds.
When we got to the jail, I made Jason do a lap around the building, just to see if any of the girls were outside at break. I wanted some kind of idea of who's in there before I walk in. Will they all be new? Will they all be the same? The one thing I'm not nervous about anymore is my Bunkie. After 4 previous times, it has been exactly who Heavenly Father has picked out for me. This time should be no different.
I hugged and kissed the kids individually and looked them in the eyeball to tell them I loved them. I wonder if Heavenly Father was so intent, or more so, in wanting me to feel His love, before I left His presence in the pre-existence. I'm sure He was sad to see each one of us leave, hoping we would come back safe.
I don't know if I'm getting to the point of having a good attitude going in, but at least it's not a bad attitude. I worked my way through all the steps of booking. It's the worst part of my whole week, because it's so humiliating to me. The guard checking me in could sense my modesty and apologized several times about having to do all this all over again. It's comments like that, that make me wonder if the guards have heard about the blog. Or do they now understand the kind of person I am after watching me on their monitors 24/7? I am someone who is here, not because I deserve it, but because this 37 days sure beats even the possibility of 20 years of the same thing. I am in here by a strange twist of God's plan, trying to figure out what my purpose here is and continually asking myself, "What would He have me do here this week?"
After I was changed, the guard had also made the emotional transition from looking at me as a civilian to an inmate. In a serious tone, she asked if I get along with Robin. Knowing Robin was a possibility of a Bunkie, I wanted to jump for joy. I tried to contain myself and give her a polite, "Yes, Ma'am." She said I would room in that cell for the week then. Robin was one that has been studying the Book of Mormon along with the Bible. She knows both books cover to cover so well. She was the one I created The Plan of Salvation for, which maybe ended up being more for me than for her. She is the one that is such a great, unselfish artist willing to share her talents.
I escaped booking again without lice treatment in my hair, thank goodness! The guard handed me an envelope that had come for me while I was gone. I reminded her that it was still sealed and asked if she needed it back. She looked softly at me and said, "We're not worried about your envelopes." I smiled inside, knowing I had won that significant amount of trust.
I walked into the pod to a strange silence. No noise usually meant it was either time for the med cart to come in for medications or it was bedtime. No other time was it ever quiet in the pod. I took my plastic bag of belongings and bed roll to a cell on the lower level where I found Robin laying on her stomach reading. She sat up on the bed when I entered and started gabbing right away, "I knew you were coming! The laundry girls said we had a new girl coming with your size of clothes who was bringing her own underclothes. I just knew it was you! I knew you would be my Bunkie!" I laughed. That is jail gossip at it's finest.
I turned around to a welcoming committee at the door. Rachel, check. Kris, check. Dani, check. A new girl stood with them and I introduced myself and shook her hand. (In mid-shake I remembered that's not the norm in here to shake someone's hand when meeting them.) I don't know if it was my excitement for it being my last week, or the good mood I was in from all the laughter in the car, but I started asking questions of the new girl.
Where are you from?
Do you have kids?
How much time do you have left?
I realized that not once had it crossed my mind to ask her why she was in here, which seemed like such a big goal for me in the beginning when I first came to jail. Now it had come so natural to find the good things to talk about, rather than the things she had done wrong to get here. Rachel interrupted us, "Is this new?"
"Is what new?" not really understanding what she was asking.
"This confidence. All the questions. You're having a conversation with Nicki that you completely initiated. Remember when you wouldn't even ask another inmate for a pillow from the laundry room?"
We had a laugh, and she made me feel good to see that I have grown in here over the past months.
Robin laid back on her stomach on her bottom bunk and they all filled me in on the drama. It's quiet in the pod now because...
There were a few heated fights. Some of the obnoxious girls went to The Hole for a while.
There was frustration and fighting over the T.V. so it got taken away.
The microwave blew up, so we don't have that privilege anymore.
The coffee is being taken out earlier in the morning, so they can't drink on it all day.
Then Tuck stuck her head in, "But don't worry, I told them all you were coming. I said you would be leveling out all the emotions soon so everyone could calm down." I laughed at her comment and said, "I don't know about that, but I'm here." Happy to also see Tuck here still, check. Although I'd like to think it's me that they love having here, I know it's the Holy Ghost I can bring with me. I wish they could connect it to God's love for them, rather than me. I just feel like I'm the lucky one that gets to bring it to them.
A couple of the girls commented on my curly hair being down. (Flattery, I'm sure.) Then 3 of them asked to see my wedding ring. I panicked when I realized the guard in booking hadn't taken it from me! How did I make it through booking with my wedding ring still on?! That is definitely not supposed to be in here! After showing the girls, I decided to find a time to hand it over to one of the guards. First, to be honest. Second, to prevent having to explain how my wedding ring went missing when I wasn't supposed to have it in here in the first place.
Robin brought out a long, hand-written chart of the TV schedule, detailed with who wanted to watch what and when. Genius! The girls hoped this would be the solution to getting the TV back. The girls are given so few possessions/privileges/control that they freak out about the few things they do have control over - T.V., coffee, the microwave, and their store commissary. I think the TV schedule will give them a visual of thinking outside themselves to see each other's requests - that there really are people that have other ideas of what should be watched on T.V.
The girls were anxious to hear about my month on the outs. I was hesitant to share the details of my family activities, but I shared with them how they changed what I did on my weeks out. I told Kris that I gave each of my kids a big lick on their faces when I got home - just like she said she would do when she got out. We laughed about our kids' similar reactions of wiping it away, saying "Moooommmm!" but then laughing about the ridiculousness of it.
I told Dani how I shared a video on Facebook about Deseret Industries where she used to work, and a guy just like her that got a fresh start. I told her I cleaned out my closets to donate so that I could help other people like her. She thanked me, I think halfway surprised that I would think about her while I was away.
I gave Rachel a hug and told her it was from her mom. I met her amazingly strong mother while I was out. Although I can't pass along notes or messages, nor do I have any desire to, I feel honored to transplant a hug from a worried mother to a daughter who needs it. In the mix of transition from real life to jail life, I remembered there's no hugging or touching in jail. About that time the guard over the loud speaker told my welcoming committee to move away from my cell doorway, as the policy is to keep all doorways unrestricted.
I got settled and unpacked my things into my locker. I made my bed for the first time all by myself. I folded my heavy plastic mattress like a long taco, and slid my mattress cover over it, careful not to let it touch the floor, and lifted it onto my top bunk. Hello light in my face again - Can't say I've missed that! I laugh that the very first week I was here, I didn't know what the mattress cover was used for and I spent the first 3 nights trying to stay directly on my blankets so my skin would not touch the used mattress I was sure was infested with germs, disease, and bodily fluids!
After some peaceful reading and journaling, I'm headed to bed early at 7:30. (When else can a mom put herself to bed that early?!) I read tonight from the Book of Mormon and found a verse I hope for my kids to be like, "...they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all - they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God to walk uprightly before him." Just like anything else I want my kids to do, I have to first do it myself so they can learn by example.
So, on my To Do List this week -
Be exceedingly valiant for courage
Be valiant for strength and activity
Keep the commandments
Walk uprightly before God
Let's do this (right after a really long, good night sleep)!
For readers that are interested in Bryer's next step, here's the link. We'd love you to join us to Wake Up and Be Different along with Bryer!