When I was 20, I was living in a white duplex with 2 other students. One day, I wrote “You ain’t gotta be in jail to be doin’ time”1 on the whiteboard in the kitchen — the whiteboard where we usually tracked who needed to pay what amount of the utility bills. The quote stayed up for a few months.
When I was 20, I felt that way. I felt trapped. I was surrounded. Surrounded by schoolwork. Surrounded by farmland. Surrounded by one overwhelming, suffocating relationship. Surrounded by my poor decisions.
When I was 20, I was doing time. Just waiting for my days to be over.
I haven’t felt that way in a long time.
1 One summer I went through a Tupac phase. Really. I made this cassette tape of my favorite Tupac songs, and for three months, that cassette did not come out of my tape deck. This phase came after the fall of Operation Ivy and the winter and spring of Ani DiFranco.