I’ve never voted for a politician, though the year I turned 18 Ross Perot bragged about being able to pay off the national debt with his oil money. This made him seem cool, even if I knew absolutely nothing else about the candidates or politics. In the years since, my life has been immersed in capital punishment politics and, were it possible, I might have voted Gore, Kerry, Obama, and maybe Hilary. Maybe . . .
I’ve never possessed more than four-hundred twenty-five dollars, paid bills, or had a job longer than three months that paid more than minimum wage. I’ve never owned a car or license to drive, though if I had, my insurance would’ve been pretty expensive because there is only one way to drive a car: faster. Drugs and alcohol and irresponsibility prevented any sort of financial responsibility and I couldn’t be bothered to slow down for stability.
I’ve never met my brothers’ wives, my niece’s husband and sons, or my nephew. My imprisonment has removed me from the family picture, erasing my name and image to leave only a faint shadow where someone used to be.
Since my incarceration at the age of 19 there has been plenty of time to think of all the things I never had the chance to do. Everyday I’m reminded of how the free world was at my feet – I could have been anything. Yet, it was the simple goals I took for granted and regret missing out on the most. Having a son or daughter to carry on my name and knowledge, teaching him or her the ways of a world I struggled to understand, and being an equally loving partner to my wife were fearsome prospects I saw ending my wanderlust. Voting was a frivolous concept irrelevant to my young life. Getting high or drunk dominated everything. My thoughts were for eradicating the need to think or feel beyond instant gratification, and long-term decisions or repercussions didn’t fit in that equation.
Seventeen years later these choices haunt me no matter how much I try to move on. It’s apparent I was sick with addiction and had other serious mental health issues, but I don’t use this to justify any poor decision. Also apparent is how these choices cannot be unmade. I can imagine flirting with a P.O. Box wife, but it will never be like the real thing. I can hope my nephew contacts me when he is older or that one day I am released from prison and able to do all of the things I should have done the first time around, but until that day comes I will have to be content with what I can do.