Your Memoirs – “Visiting Time”

The very first time that I visited my husband in jail, he was incarcerated in the Oakland County Maximum Security Facility.

“Gum or cigarettes.”

Was it a question, a command or an offer? I shook my head, kept quiet. After the guard frisked me, she said it again. This time I said no. She seemed satisfied.

All jewellery had to be removed, except wedding rings. They had to be secured. As the guard wrapped the masking tape around my finger, I pictured her strolling through Woolworths in her neat Oakland County uniform, a basketful of budget masking tape slung over her arm. After the enforced intimacy of the search, we made slow progress through canyons of steel and glass: three-inch-thick bullet-proof glass; remote-controlled steel gates. We never again shared the same air as any of the guards.

The second time, we took Steve’s father’s Lincoln. Steve drove. I rode shotgun between Steve and somebody’s girlfriend, Steve’s or Mike’s, perhaps both. It was like a party, a road trip. Shiawassee County Correctional Facility in Corunna has a waiting area with orange plastic seats bolted to each other and the floor. We had to stand in the visiting area: a small room with a partition down the middle, solid to above waist height, then iron bars to the low ceiling. I had expected seats and telephone receivers. The round iron bars were thick with paint. I got caught up thinking about how often the bars had been painted since the jail was built. Every year by the Sheriff’s no-account brother-in-law, I decided. On the way home, we stopped at the bakery in Durand. Every time we stopped, we made the same jokes everyone feels compelled to make about a bakery called Ichi-Bon’s.

For my last jail visit, Jack drove his old VW, Fiona in her car-seat in the back, Aaron Neville pleading with his lover on the cassette deck. Fiona had been conceived on the night of her father’s release from Maximum Security in Oakland County. Now she was going to visit him in the Trusty Camp in Auburn Hills.

Submitted by Lindsay Oliver, 61, Edinburgh

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