Thursday, March 14, 2013

Living Life Like I Just Got Out of Prison...One Year Later

It's been one year since I watched Blago walk through those prison doors.  Doors open, he steps inside, and my head spins.  The reporter declares that former Governor Blagojevich is going to be an old man when he gets out in 14 years.  An old man.  How can that be?  He's MY age. 

Blago spoke the night before he left for prison on how grateful he was for everything.  I promised myself right there that I would be grateful that I wasn't Blago.  I wanted to remind myself that being free was something I couldn't take for granted.

Most people had the same reaction when I mentioned this blog.  "That's really a stupid idea."  I know.  It's not like I ever liked the guy, or gave him a second thought.  I could never pronounce the name, so I called him, "Gov. blowfish." I threw a kitchen towel at the radio when I heard he was elected
governor.  "Can't anyone see he's an idiot?"

So now I have to step back and ask myself what this past year has been like for me.  Has this exercise in gratitude been a stupid idea after all?  Ironically, yesterday put it all into perspective.

I woke up late, since I didn't have to work.  The sun was shining through the curtains, and the birds were singing.  My window was open and a cool breeze was coming through.    Stop and think about this. 

a.  I woke up late.  You don't get to wake up late in prison...with 4 pillows!

b.  The sun was shining through curtains.  No windows in prison cells.

c.  My window was open, so I could hear the birds.  In prison, there's an alarm or bells to wake you.

d.  I woke to a cool breeze.  Seriously.  That won't happen in a prison cell.

I had a great cup of coffee and fresh blackberries with my oatmeal.  Later, I took the dog for walk, but since it was so beautiful out, I walked over to the woods for a change of scenery. 

a.  Who has fresh blackberries in prison?   (I spotted them in the grocery store and asked myself that same question, and that's why they were in the fridge.)

b.  I was free to change my usual walk with the dog.  I took a different route.  New scenery.  When you exercise in prison, it's the same view day after day after day.

I swear this is the truth.  The mailman dropped off my new CD from Amazon.  My son was shocked that I still order these instead of downloading.  Anyway, "Stevie Ray Vaughan's Greatest Hits, " came in the mail.  I took it to the bathroom, turned on the hot shower, and Stevie rocked the house.  I even touched up the grey in my hair. 

a.  A long, hot shower is the one luxury I no longer take for granted.
b.  To play my favorite music as loud as I want is pure joy.
c.  I can wash that grey right out of my hair!  (Sorry, Blago.)

I was home when my son came in from school.  He was eating a snack, while  we caught up on things, and I drove him to his tutor. 

a.  I will always be grateful for this simple joy.  Imagine being unable to see my children.   Imagine not being there in person to have a heart to heart talk. (I believe this former governor is a stronger man than I've given him credit for being.)

After dropping off my son, I drove to the grocery store.  Aisle after aisle of choices.  I ended the night at a department store, picking out a new pair of shoes.

You get it, I know.  But it's reminding yourself that gets tricky.  When I was at the grocery store, it wasn't a chore anymore.  I was genuinely grateful for all the choices I had.  I didn't even care that I couldn't afford the expensive shoes.  I was just happy to treat myself to something new for spring.  You don't do that if you're Blago.  You don't do anything I did in ONE day when you're not free.

I promised myself that I wasn't going to be watching Blagojevich leave prison on television 14 years later, and wondering what I had done with my own life.  I've completed the first course towards a degree in a specialized field that I work in.  Not so sure I would have been motivated to do this before.  I also paid off credit cards.  The very last thing I wanted to know is that Blago had saved more money cleaning toilets than I had saved. 

I also forced myself to go out and do things because I was free to.  My husband and I went out on New Year's Eve this year instead of watching the ball drop on TV.  We had a blast.  Going out to lunch has become my new obsession.  I love to linger.  Love to try new restaurants. Because I can. 

Was it watching a man my age, a man with an almost identical background as mine, walk into prison for 14 years, or was it the idea that in 14 years I would be an old lady that caused me to freeze?  Both.  I just don't want to plod along and not be grateful for my freedom.