Sometimes the bleakness here is shafted by a little ray of sunshine. Just recently, this bearded Latino took me aside and whispered to me, “Hola, la flaca.” He said it means, “Hello, Slim One.” Haha! He’s an old guy, but quite the charmer. He told me I’m much more slimmer than when he last saw me some months ago. It feels good to be noticed and complimented.
This year, I am pushing myself to be healthier, stronger, more brave. I am actually surprised that I have such a strong resolve to see this through. I accept it now, the fact that for years I have been in a deep funk–denying my spirit, not taking good care of my body and my soul. It’s somewhat ironic that I had to be dislocated in such a bleak place to realize that. I think the spareness of this environment focuses me—away from the noise, the colors, and all other distractions you have no choice but to look a little bit longer inward and find the will to change things.
It’s been six months now, and I think I have come a long way. Not just because I lost some weight, although outwardly of course, that is the obvious change. Inside, I’m tougher, stronger. I have always been that, people tell me. But now I am sure of it. I can withstand so much more that I ever thought I could: loneliness, alienation, confinement, the sameness of days. I can contend with the lack of physical contact, a dearth of conversation, the protracted human interaction, hidden and blatant prejudice, the sexual tension, the petty quarrels with small minds, the absence of all the familiar, everyday things one takes for granted.
I know a guy here who gets depressed when the kitchen doesn’t have the juice he usually has with his cereal for breakfast. Such a little thing, but when you are here, the little things get to you. It’s the sensory deprivation that wages war on the self. And I understand that, I get it.
I have survived it all so far, and I will continue to do so.