I never loved living in AZ in the middle of the summer like I did the night I was released from jail. Heavenly. Van Buren street was as coveted as Beverly Hills, but here I sought freedom and warmth, not Hermes.
The injustice continued outside the 4 walls of my jail cell. My so called lawyer warned me of the implications of fighting the accusation, although very rare, there was a microscopic possibility of more jail time. Okay, I am guilty! Whatever you want me to say, I’ll say it, I’d like to keep the rest of the hair on my head! (A reference to part 1 of this story.)
I will never forget the look on the judge’s face the day I stood before him, dressed as I do, in a pretty flowery summer dress, proclaiming my guilt. I think he would have preferred asking me out rather than announcing my sentence of 6 months of anger management classes. Our eyes spoke the truth of the situation. It was a moment of giggly reprieve for me. The ridiculousness of the situation reeked with ridiculous hilarity. Making the hypocrisy of the whole event almost worth it. Retelling it is the cherry on top of this sundae.
Class was held in Tollefson. Lets just say it is a part of town I never visit. On my first trip out there, I hit something on the road and flattened my tire. Tardiness was not tolerated, and in the 6 month span of time it took to complete the course, only 3 absences were allowed, which had to be made up as well. If more than 3 classes were missed, you had to start over. Because of these strict requirements, some participants had been going to class for YEARS! And I mean many years! They just could not organize their lives to be consistent. The rules scared me so much, that I arrived 15 minutes early every night, and did not miss one class. The early arrival allowed for gawking. The gawking at me by students coming and going from previous classes. “What the hell is she doing here,” was written all over their faces. Honestly, I had to make it fun. So again, I just giggled inside and took my place with quiet confidence.
Which brings me to High. I think he had been going to class for 10 years! An aura of a certain plant could be easily detected in his presence, until the teacher caught a whiff of it as she walked around the room one night. I actually felt sorry he was busted, after 10 years, one would require a recreational substance for endurance. After a swift and serious reprimand, he came to class clean.
High irritated me thoroughly at first, with his constant comments. Soon, he just became entertaining as the teacher attempted to transform his questions into thought provoking anecdotes.
To create class participation, we would take turns reading various violence related materials. Stuttering over the simplest of words, High could hardly read. He had only finished 8th grade and was now in his twenties.
Then there was the horrific movie we were forced to watch about an awful abusing husband with submissive wife. The story wanted to really traumatize us, so they threw in some molestation and then suicide by hanging Yep, it took us to the depths of despair. I don’t even watch the news because I don’t like viewing or hearing about violence. It does not benefit me or my life in any way. With tears, I begged the teacher to let me sit in another room and write a paper or something to get out of this viewing. Nope, she said it was good for me. But don’t you realize I have affirmations literally written on the walls of my hair salon, “Dance, I am Grateful, Live Exuberantly,” I don’t NEED to watch this! It will actually harm me, I silently pleaded. I closed my eyes and unsuccessfully tried to go to my happy place.
How could I make this whole experience beneficial?
As I sat next to Gentle, conversing with this former prisoner of 10 years before class and during the breaks. It became clear. I could connect. If I could possibly impart friendship by listening and offer words of encouragement from my own life, maybe I could actually consider this an opportunity to give of my spirit.
As I opened myself up to knowing my classmates, and they me, the most unlikely friendships unfolded.
We each had to share our story as to why we were there. By the time I shared my story, everyone had a pretty good grasp on who I was. This was further confirmed as the whole class gasped in horror about how I answered the officer at the time of my arrest, as if there was a police interaction protocol that everyone knows about except me. I think it’s called lying.
I felt a kinship with my fellow domestically violent charged friends. A desire to do this thing called life better. Real people with real hearts, hopes, and dreams. I loved them.
On our last day, we had the opportunity to share how the class impacted us, and our plans for the future. I just knew what I would do. I handed out a mini version of the book “The Four Agreements,” by Don Miguel Ruiz to each of my convicted precious friends. I thanked them for sharing this time with me.
As I slid into the driver’s seat of my car, I was startled by a knock on my window. It was High. He said, “Kim, you have to understand. I have been going to these classes for a really long time. No one has ever done anything like that…ever. Thank you. Thank you. That was really special. I will go home and read it. Thank you.”
I believe that may be the greatest gift I have ever given, but High gave me one of the greatest gifts I have ever received, his smile, and his gratitude.
I smile as tears wet my cheeks when I think of High. I imagine his little book sitting on his bedside table, collecting dust, but he doesn’t remove it. He too has a tender space in his heart for the connection we made, and he likes the reminder. We have found a silent secret place in our hearts for each other . An impression that will last a lifetime.
Release to Unleash!
Have you ever or do you have a High in your life?
Have you ever given just for the sake of giving?