I don’t know how I feel about this. I really want to see her, but this is messed up. The last time I saw my Grandma was over dinner at a wholesome restaurant. Sharing bread sticks and talking about what I was going to do with my future. As always. My mind is racing as the male guard escorts me through to the visiting area. I don’t even care that he’s being rough about it either, I’m genuinely worried that right now, she’s probably in the building. Did they make her wait long? I hope they we’re nice to her. Why did I say yes to this? I shouldn’t have. This was a mistake.
The guard directs me through the last of the clanging door and locks it behind me. There is it. Like in all the movies. Like in all the HBO specials we pay good money to watch. That row of phones. The long, narrow hall of metal stools, and the plexi glass wall separating the dirt from the clean. I realize, I won’t be giving my Grandma that painful, bony hug she always greets me with. The two sloppy wet kisses on both sides of my cheeks. For the first time, I’ll crave it from her and it will break my heart.
I sit down on the metal stool, I can feel the coolness of it through my joggers. I wait.
There are other women here. Whispering through the receivers, putting their hands up against the glass, up against the hand that belongs to their lovers, husbands, their children. I try not to watch. Keep my eyes down. Even our most intimate and personal moments are kept on display here, and I won’t be adding to that.
I hear the loud click of the metal door opening, and see my Grandmother come through it. She’s asking the guard where to go. He just points forward and slams it shut. Slams it shut before any kind thank you or polite gesture. She’s not used to this. I’m already raging. So, your a jaded jail house guard, please avoid your ignorance and treat my Grandmother with some respect. I’m picturing myself slamming his face into the wall and forcing him to apologize like I’m some Mobster hit man, but I’m just a thin, angry eighteen year old girl. There’s nothing I can do.
I smile and wave to her as she looks over to me. Like I’ve been waiting for her outside in a lovely park on a beautiful sunny day. The concrete walls and plexi glass becoming all the more apparent and I feel the lie of it wash over my skin. I feel unclean. I don’t even want to look her in the eye. She’s always been good at denial, at ignoring the stinking fat elephant in the room. So, I figure maybe this won’t be so bad. I’m doing my best anyways. I notice she’s wearing her silver like rain jacket, the long trench one I’ve always liked so much. Still classy, even when sitting in in this dingy shit hole. We both reach for the receivers. I have that ethereal moment, where you feel like your standing on the outside of yourself. It’s almost like it’s just too heavy to even be in this situation, that you jump out and recoil for a second. I imagine this is what happens to people with multiple personality disorder. Just an observation.
She asks me the kind of questions a parent would ask their kid when visiting them in their first year of college. It’s pointless and unnecessary.The food sucks, this place is the kind of place you should just forget and I’d like to you stop asking please.
The rest of our conversation consists of beating around the bush and hiding how we really feel. Pretty common family stuff if you ask me. Our visit lasts about thirty minutes and the guard yells time up. My heart slides into the pit of my stomach, as my Grandmas eyes turn sad. I can see the tears begin to whell up in her small, grey eyes. The lense of her glasses becoming slightly foggy. All I want to do is give her a hug. I wanna hold her hand and remind her I’m strong and I’ll be home again. I can’t, all I can do is reach up to the glass and tell her I love her. The guards have little patience with lolly gagging at the end of visits, and he yells again, louder this time, time up.
My Grandma is jolted by his bellowing and she stands up a little to quickly. Her jacket becomes caught on the stool beneath her and she loses her footing. Out of reaction, I shoot up and bound forward to catch her fall. My forehead hits the glass with a gut twisting thud as I watch her fall the the ground. I’m yelling at the guard to come help her, and he calmly, with no rush, comes to help her up. I’m stuck behind this piece of shit wall, while my Grandma struggles in her old age to pick herself up off the floor. I’ve never, ever felt more helpless and ashamed in my life. I’m leaning my face up against the glass, telling her I’m sorry as she catches her breath. It’s alright my darling…she quietly says. Her hands are visibly shaking, and so are mine. She looks up at me and smiles one last time as I watch her walk away.Feeling the ache of her heart with each step. My Grandma’s the type of woman who’s constitution doesn’t allow for this kind of thing. She deserves to be taken care of, to be assisted and soothed. I want to break free of this damn glass wall and run to her. Tell her something like this will never happen again. Tell her it’s all my fault, and she won’t ever have to visit me in a place like this ever again…but I don’t know if that’s true.
She leaves thirty dollars in my canteen, so I can buy magazines and snacks. I feel like I’ve used her and wish she’d take the money back. My head is still throbbing from the impact of the plexi glass, and I’ll have a pretty gnarly bruise for the next few days. I’ll hate to look in the mirror. What I see when I look at that purple and yellow mess, is how I didn’t catch her. Is how I let my Grandmother bail in front of me, inside a grim, repugnant place she doesn’t belong….
It’ll be this memory that keeps me out of jail, above anything else. Above any of the abominable tales that flow forth in these entries, it will be this. Never again, and for the first time in a very long time, it’ll be the truth.