October 6, 2011 — Delaney Hall Detention Facility, Newark, New Jersey
Finally, I tried to turn my thoughts away from the others because I saw quite clearly today that none of that mattered right now. It was hard to swallow that I was thought of by the guards as just like the others. That I’d been brought up to believe I was gifted, more special than the rest was laughable in this environment and that scared me. Who I was, how I viewed myself, all of it, knocked on its ass. This feeling of being just like the others felt bitter, unwelcome. I saw it in the guard’s eyes, or should I say their lack of eye contact. To those in charge at Delaney, I was just a guy who was now a detainee. Delaney, the great equalizer.
So I turn to what is easier to understand: the facts. Eni and I are locked up. A first in my life and his. It felt surreal, a dash of curiosity added to the cocktail of emotions. I’d been stripped of everything but my eyeglasses, including basic human interaction, like eye contact and civil conversation. The system had moved me into a different category of human being – just a notch above cattle. This realization obviously didn’t sit well.
I feel off-center as I lay there, the nagging question of who I am, how I am seen, just won’t go away. I am used to respect, for who I am and what I’ve accomplished … so was this a bruised ego I am acknowledging? Pondering that for a bit, I know this is only part of it. I am human after all, and unless you’re Christ or Ghandi you probably can’t ever remove ego. But I mustn’t look at that right now. It’s the other thing, the big question.
How was I going to fix this?
After all, that’s the expectation for a husband, father, man of the house. I’d gotten us into this, and I was the one who needed to get us out. How would I have my voice heard?