Skip to main content

My name is Adam.

I have a heart condition. It’s hereditary. It’s not because I haven’t been taking care of myself, nor is it due to an extensive drug history. No, it’s because my father had a bad heart, and now I have one.

Did I mention I’m incarcerated with a life sentence? I don’t know how many years I have left, but I won’t let it slow me down. I’m a musician and an artist, and I anticipate all the activities I take part in will keep me busy until the end of the day. I’ve lived a good life. This life feels as though I’ve lived many lives in one lifetime.

My journey has been an arduous road but very fulfilling. The only time I fear is that I won’t accomplish all my life goals before my last day. I expect my loved ones to be sad when I go, but at least they’ll know I love them. At the funeral, I expect lots of music and discussion. I’ll be cremated, and my ashes will be divided amongst the family and scattered in the places that are meaningful to them. I don’t know when my final days will be, but until then, I won’t say “Sayonara”; I’ll say, “Hasta Luego!”

Her Name Was Reina.

She was my addiction. She was my world. Everything I did, I did for her. I felt I had to please her. My mission was to please her even when she told me not to be a people pleaser. We talked on the phone for years, hoping to see each other one day. We told each other everything: what we thought, how we felt, and what we did. There seemed to be no secrets, no subject matter we wouldn’t address.

“I hope she finds her own happiness

and understanding for this life.

I hope she’s okay with all the substance issues

I’ve had in my life, she was my drug of choice.

She was my favorite addiction.

She was my Reina.”

She was always so happy and excited when I called. Life was euphoric and wonderful. Knowing she would always be there for me, I could go about my daily tasks. Then, one day, it seemed that she wasn’t herself anymore. It started with one missed call. This had never happened before, and then another and another.

Whenever I had called previously, she would always pick up no matter what she was doing. The dates and times seemed not to match up anymore. “I’m sorry I missed your call,” she said. This became a common occurrence. And then, eventually, there weren’t any explanations at all, nor were there any apologies. When we spoke, it was more of her speaking and me listening.

As time passed, it appeared neither of us had anything to say anymore. Our conversations weren’t about us or our future. Our discussions became disagreements and arguments until she told me her opinion of me had changed. She didn’t want me in her life anymore. I thought I had everything I wanted, but I didn’t. What was once full became empty and void. Like a man trying to achieve his first high, I did this for years until the drug wasn’t available to me anymore until I realized my happiness didn’t depend on her, until I learned that happiness was a state of being through my actions, not hers.

Despite all this, I still miss her! I still think about her, wondering how her life must be out there. I still wish I could hear her laughter again, hear the excitement and passion in her voice when she spoke to me. I hope she finds happiness and understanding in this life. I hope she’s okay with all the substance issues I’ve had in my life; she was my drug of choice. She was my favorite addiction. She was my Reina.

My Life is Chess.

Ever since I was twelve years old, I have loved the game of chess. There is no game like it. Risk doesn’t even compare to it. As I was growing up, I would hear, “Life is Chess.” Chess taught me many things in life: how to think and plan, how to be patient, and how to evaluate things before I make a decision, as well as how to gain advantage and maintain it. Chess has also taught me how to “blunder.” It taught me that no matter how superior a position I’m in or how strong I can be, I can permanently lose the advantage I’ve gained with a blunder.

I see the mistakes in my life as blunders. I see my life sentence as the biggest blunder I’ve ever committed. Despite these blunders, chess has taught me that although I might lose a game, I can still win the match. With a lot of strategy, determination, and application, I can still win. I can achieve a checkmate (victory) or resign from the process. My Life is Chess!

Hasta el Día que Puedo Verte.

The sound of her soft, energetic voice was enough for me. The way the pitch of her voice fluctuated when she was excited about something always brought a smile to my face. Her giggles of joy elevated my spirit to a whole new level. It felt like we were at home again as one; a sense of complete harmony welcomed me.

I sat on my steele-plated stump, holding the pay phone receiver to my ear as she told me she loved me. This sense of wholeness invited me into another world entire of peace and tranquility. I could feel a flutter in my stomach, the muscle spasms of mild-mannered anxiety and warmth. I felt this awful goodness. And then, I began to ponder my past and the road to my present. For years, I was in a secluded world of numbness and withdrawal, a complete neurotic in a place of insanity. I made my obligatory appearances in the prison yard. I attended all my so-called “mandatory” meetings. I lived through the drug-infested drama that plagued all the cars from a level IV prison yard to a level III and finally to a level II security prison; I traveled to and fro from Southern California to Central and then eventually to Northern California.

I was transferred to various prisons as my points dropped. I had gone from a place of extreme violence to something a little less chaotic and then to something far less violent. I have attained a forty-hour work week at a newly acquired job. I maintain and upkeep the medical ward and correctional treatment center, sanitizing and disinfecting every inch, from the floor to the ceiling, from the stall restrooms to the 9′ x 12′ patient cells. I strip, scrub, wax, and burnish all the floors in the facility. In the words of my co-worker, “You got these floors looking cocaine white. Do you know what we call this on the streets? ‘Ice baby.'” I find myself wrapped up in pride and appreciation all at once.

Outside my job, I am a paid artist. My portfolio includes portraits, single and multiple subjects, landscapes, collages, still lives, and anime. “How much is something like this?” someone asks as I complete a composition. “It depends on the medium and size of the commission,” I reply without getting into the specifications, and I continue with the current project.

Besides my artwork, I’m a musician. I play both keyboards and rhythm guitar in a prison rock ensemble. “It’s sink or swim,” my band leader/ lead vocalist and guitar player tells me whenever we learn a new song. “You know how it goes, now play that shit.” I’ve heard him say it more than once. Practicing three nights a week, we prepare to perform at the Solano Friday Night Lights event in front of a hundred-man crowd at level II gymnasium. Did I mention I attend college classes and am pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology? I guess that’s another story.

Yet, despite all the activities in my life, as the days go by, I look forward to seeing her, the love of my life. I’ll continue to speak to her over the phone and anticipate the day I can look into her eyes, hold her in my arms, kiss her lips, and tell her I love her too!

One Comment

  • Heath St. John says:

    Peace Adam. I am happy to hear of your accomplishments and that the light of your determination shines bright. Deep reflections in the writing. I hope to see you soon.

Leave a Reply

Receive more inspiring stories and news from incarcerated people around the world.