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This is a raw and humorous piece from one of our treasured tribe members, enjoy:-)

What are the take-aways from 2020, both good & bad? Ooh, you’ll have to give me a minute….

……ok, well, as many of you know, it was the year I managed to do a poo in my in-laws’ home, the first time staying there & it blocked the toilet…ta-da!! That was in March, so pretty much I was ready for any other old shit that the year cared to throw my way. NOTHING could or would be as mortifying as that event 🙂

The mere fact that I was even in America, in March, staying with my in-laws, whilst having a three-day visit with Josh was actually monumental, as the week I flew back was the last week that citizens of the UK were allowed to fly to the US. As Corona restrictions began to be put in place, the World would shrink to become a very small space. The planes I travelled on, to & from, were sparsely occupied, meaning (silver lining) I got bumped a class on each leg of the journey.

Had I known then that I would not see him or feel his warmth, albeit briefly, for the rest of this year, I would have studied every nook & cranny on his beautiful face that much closer. Video visits for us are a sham, never mounting to anything more than utter frustration & repeated disappointment, as they freeze & skip & stutter & disappear. So, March was the last time I saw him.

We are lucky in that we can speak on the phone most days. I know that if our relationship is as amazing as it has been for these last 3yrs, conducted mainly over the international phone lines from the UK to the US, then we are doing ok. We are unlucky in that we were banned from sending Video-grams to each other after they censored one of me dancing in a t-shirt & knickers to Marvin Gaye, calling it ‘sexual.’ (I really wanted to say, “If I’d been trying to be ‘sexual’, don’t you think I’d have chosen Sexual Healing to be dancing to instead of Inner-City Blues, Warden??”) It was a rookie error & we paid for it every damn day.

The month of May will be indelibly etched in my mind forever as the month that the wonderful woman I cared for passed away, as did a certain George Floyd. Although I’m over here in the UK, I always keep one eye on the plight of black people in the US, as…how could I not? Personally, I have huge anxieties about Josh being released & having to live, as a black man, in such a racist society. 

So, 2020 will be remembered for BLM marches & trying to further educate myself (reading books, watching videos, speaking to educators & Josh’s relatives, going to talks, marching sometimes in silent solidarity & sometimes with my lungs as bellows, screaming ‘til I was hoarse & red-faced, falling out with friends who chose the path of ignorance), as a white person, seeing my place living in a white-centric world.

May was also, the month I became materially unstable, as I lost my job & the home that went with it. Then followed 11 weeks of false promises & near misses as job after job fell through, my finances dwindled & my mental health suffered with the uncertainty. I felt guilty for feeling anxiety, as the whole World was suffering with anxiety.

It really was a year of beginnings & endings, as I got offered a great job only for it to fall through when the wife of the 87-year-old gentleman I was caring for accused me of being “all over her husband”, and she didn’t mean in a professional way. Very luckily, the family of the man knew what an evil Dickens-inspired wicked witch she was & whisked me & their father off to their castle where we all now live very happily, without her, thank you very much. 

But it meant I had to endure being parted from my 3rd son, my youngest boy (my cat), Gordon for ten weeks, which was nothing short of torturous (anyone with a pet will know how hard that was). Being reunited with him was one of the highlights of the year.

So, when I changed jobs, I swapped living in a vibrant, progressive, open-minded, cosmopolitan city with cool & alternative things going on at every turn for living in a hamlet in the middle of nowhere, with one shop & sheep for neighbours. And I wouldn’t swap back for all the tea in China. Sunsets, mud, sunrises, owls hooting all night, walks down lanes lined with scrappy hedgerows wide enough for only one car, mud, silence, mud, birdsong, views over glorious bucolic countryside, mud, people saying “Good morning” & stopping to pass the time of day…yes, please. Did I say mud?

(I am blessed that my city-born- &- bred- black -man can think of NOTHING he wants more than to live in the countryside too. Thank god, as I don’t want him anywhere near a city. If I had my way, I would simply wrap him in cotton wool & keep him safe in my bed, forever)

Whilst the World & I were having our dramas; Josh was quietly studying away & passing his Associates Degree &teaching himself guitar ‘til his fingers bled & having another guy teach him to draw ‘til his eyes bled. He has more resilience & patience in his little(bleeding) finger than I have in my whole self, to get up in that place every day for over 19yrs & still want to do better. He is my inspiration & motivation, among other things.

So, as this annus horribilis comes to a close, he & I begin the countdown to June & his 2nd time before the Board, trying not to raise hopes too much, whilst trying to keep hope alive. This prison wife life, the one I never wanted, the one I definitely had no intention of having, the one I would not be so stupid & so dumb to enter into……it has me hook, line & sinker, as I didn’t fall in love with a PRISONER, I fell in love with an amazing mortal who left me no choice than to love & be loved, until the stars lose their shine.

2020 may have been weird & hard & odd, but, as someone who has survived much harder shit, it was really, just another year. Happy New Year to all my fellow SPWF sisters & brothers.

-Louise B.

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