July 5, 2011
I think fondly of pain sometimes; about the dynamics of the beast, the irony, and the permanence of it all. It’s so rare that a person admits to liking pain yet we never forget a memory in which we are hurt. In a very strange way pain makes a moment real. Pain elevates a mundane day into one that we violently embrace in our minds for the rest of our natural lives.
I’ve found myself at gatherings surrounded by men whose stories led to collective laughter, and then that collective laughter grows into complete openness. The next thing you know everyone is taking turns talking about the first time they were caught, the first time they were arrested, the first time they went to jail, or when they finally graduated to the penitentiary.
No matter how hard a person is grinning when they tell a story like this you can always see right through it. The pain that they felt during the moment of their apprehension is always conveyed to the listener. And it doesn’t matter how big the orator is or how intimidating he truly wants to be, in my eyes he always turns into a boy when he speaks of pain. When he revisit that fear, those tears, and that disappointment. Yet this is the same man who always finds a way to be re-incarcerated.
This is the man who violates parole and probation. This is the man who appears to live his life so recklessly on the outside so he’ll have some good stories to tell the other inmates when he gets back home to confinement. This is the man whose world is literally turned inside out. What I mean by this is he has been so severely institutionalized that he believes prison is the only place where he can be free. Prison is the only place that he has ever really adjusted to. It’s the one place in his world where he does not feel so out-of-place.
I supposed that even pain can be normalized. But is it really normalized if it still hurts? Maybe pain is like some kind of drug and these men who keep bumping their heads against the walls of their own limitations are trying to recapture their first high. Or maybe these people just really like pain but they can’t admit it to themselves.