When you visit someone in a Massachusetts prison, what you’re wearing must conform to a very long and very specific list of do’s and don’ts. Every month, I reread this list beforehand. Every month I always mess up one thing. This month? I completely forgot I was wearing an underwire brassiere. So when going through security I set off the metal detector and was just as mystified as the guards. My genuinely-puzzled-quickly-morphing-to-mortified look must have convinced them I’d (again) made an honest mistake so, thank you, Jesus, I was allowed to see my friend. Who is being held in a Special Management Unit— AKA The Hole. Did the fact that I was visiting someone in solitary confinement—a form of incarceration many consider torture, inhumane—influence those guards’ decision to cut me some slack? I’d like to think so.

About that jewelry I leave on the top of my bureau: No Iris Apfel but, as another aging woman determined to look her best, I do wear a little bling; six silver bracelets I’ve collected over the years, one for each offspring, on my left wrist, for example. I love their collective tinkling/chiming as my dominant hand moves through my daily life. My wedding ring (which doesn’t look like a wedding ring so I take it off), a lovely silver and amethyst necklace my step-daughter and daughter-in-law gave me, my watch; these are part of me; stripped of them I feel off-balance. Thoroughly intimidated. Not myself. Which is why, every damned month, I mess up!  My fear, imbalance, and not-feeling-grounded get in the way of my being my best self.( I may be overstating this—but not by much.)

I’m coming to accept this about myself. To accept that, hell yeah, I need some kind of physical, against my skin “Dumbo’s Magic Feather” as I walk inside MCI Norfolk to be the loving and present person my friend deserves.

So, here’s my against-my-skin solution: Nina Ricci’s “L’Air Du Temps!  Background: Trying to almost literally inhabit a new character for a novel I’m slowly working on, it came to me that “Nora,” an aging screenwriter based in LA, would wear this classic scent. (She just would. You’ll have to trust me on this.) So I bought an on-sale bottle of this cologne from the drugstore down the street and when I’m writing about Nora, give myself a few squirts. It’s also a perfume very popular when my mother was a young woman so I wear it when I visit her. It makes her happy. And now I wear it on prison visits, too, a kind of self-annonting this far-from-perfect woman trying to do prison ministry (that would be me) absolutely must have, apparently, and reminiscent of Luke 4:18:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,





Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Dear Patricia,

    Well, hi, there, Patricia, and greetings and salutations FOR YOU AND FOR YOU AND FOR VERY ESPECIALLY FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, my so, so very FOR ALWAYS awesomely precious and dearly special soul sistahfriend Christian Quaker woman who you’re FOR ALWAYS so, so very much!!!!!! 🙂 <3 WOW, Patricia, WOW here!!!!! What a very inspirational, moving, and touching blog post article here as we bear witness to the sweet mercy and outreach you both have one to another with both of you connecting and reaching out to one another with this precious prisoner and YOU both blessing one another with such sheer blessed joy!!!!! As you reach out to him this awesome young man reaches right back to you in mutual friendship, loving concern. I remember very well how you've shared so earnestly about this dear young man before and oh, how I've been so, so very much praying for him and thinking about him placing him before our Sweet Spirit's Mercy Seat. I, too, know just how inhumane him being confined to solitary confinement is for certain as a means of torture!!!!! Oh, my God!!!! This dear young man is just very strong, so very special! He is never ever alone and our SO, SO VERY GOOD, LOVING, NICE, KIND, CARING SPIRIT is FOR ALWAYS with him and FOR ALWAYS there with him!!!!!! He is NEVER EVER ALONE!!!!!!! I think as well that the fact that you were visiting someone in solitary confinement did in fact influence those guards' decision to bend the rules and let you visit your dear friend, my and our absolutely AWESOME sistahfriend!!!!! YOU made an honest mistake and I can see very well how that would be easy to do, sistah!!!!!! Patricia, my very precious, special, and beloved church where I've been a member of since the 1990s here in my awesome Iowa City, Iowa, my Faith United Church of Christ,has a prison ministry outreach to the women prisoners at one of the prisons in my delightful state of Iowa. I don't go to visit these darling women prisoners because the the Iowa very long list of do's and don'ts is too difficult for me to abide by. We as visitors cannot wear denim and cannot bring in any water bottles to drink-I urgently need to keep a water bottle with me at all times because with my nagging, year-round allergies and asthma very often I get a frog in my throat and a gagging coughing spell so I need to have the water bottle with me at all times to drink when that happens. Plus my mouth and throat is always so dry from side effects from very many of the medicines I have to take so I really do need to keep a water bottle with me to drink from at all times. Then my state of Iowa has a jewelry restriction which would be hard for me as well, my dear, dearest, precious Patricia! AWWWWWWW, oh, how I so love your very endearing sharing about how you need all of your precious jewelry to feel on balance, to feel yourself. What pretty jewelry you have I can tell from your very vivid description and from the very wonderful picture which you've very graciously and generously feature and include with your very riveting blog post article here. I know what you mean about how your precious gems are a part of you and help you so to carry on like with your prison ministry in joyous, blessed friendship and sisterhood with this dearest young man. I need to be grounded as well with all of my jewelry. I can very much relate to you, my darling sisterfriend, Patricia!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sister, whenever I go out my door I just ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO have all of my lapel pins, buttons, and ribbons on whatever t-shirt or blouse or dress that I'm wearing!!!!!! 🙂 <3 I have an entire collection of my rainbow Christian LGBT lapel pins. I have three rainbow Christian lesbian fish symbol lapel pins, two rainbow Christian lesbian cross lapel pins, two rainbow smiley face lapel pins, and one other decorative gold pin. Plus I wear a larger rainbow Christian lesbian cross along with a larger rainbow Christian lesbian beads, too. I wear also a miniature rainbow flag, a azure blue Take Back The Night ribbon, a green Mental Health Awareness ribbon which speaks so to my very heart and spirit as someone who not only has permanent physical disabilities but also mental health concerns as well which have greatly improved over all of these many decades. I have a Zero Tolerance for Violence button, a Take Back The Night button, an Iowa City Public Library no banned books button, a button supporting our veterans although I'm not myself a veteran, and recently I joyfully received a Minnie Mouse button and a rainbow Minnie Mouse button from my darling local sistahfriend who recently went to Disneyland with her precious granddaughter and brought these two amazing pins back for me. All of these I must have on my shirt, t-shirt, blouse, or dress each time that I go out my door without exception!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 AWWWWWWW, my so, so very sweet sister, Patricia, I know what you mean!!!!!! I depend upon having all of these on my attire, sistah!!!!!!! ) <3 I don''t feel right or centered without all of my gear!!!!!! It even takes from seven to ten minutes to put all of that lovely stuff on because I have to press hard and make sure that everything is securely on because sometimes they fall off. I'm just so, so very sad that I lost one of my favorites buttons on Tuesday when I was grocery shopping that fell off but when I retraced my steps to look for it I couldn't find it. I thought I felt if fall and I looked but couldn't see it on the floor. It was a very empowering button saying, This Is what A Feminist Looks Like. I'll have to go online and buy another one or I could probably even find it locally as well. WOW, I have such a funny story about Disneyland. When I was 12 Summer of 1974 before seventh grade I went to Disneyland with my great-grandmother. I became very upset, though, because we were only there for 45 minutes and I'd only been on two rides when my darling great-grandmother said that she wasn't feeling very well and that we'd have to go back to the hotel. AWWWWWW, I was so concerned about my great-grandmother but I wanted to stay and begged her to let me stay at Disneyland and that I could get a cab back to the hotel but she wouldn't let me. Oh, I was so upset! So I only spent 45 minutes at Disneyland ever!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 I said to my dear local sistahfriend that she and her darling little granddaughter had to break my 45-minutes record being at Disneyland!!!!! I was still so upset that when I was telling the other girls about my shortened trip once school had started I'll never forget that one of the girls replied back to me, "At least you were there!" AWWWWW, that was no consolation for sure!!!!!!! 🙂 <3

    Sistah, oh, how I so, so very much love here how you've as usual as always once again as ever very graciously and generously feature and include such remarkable links here!!!!! WOW, I need dmy kind of physical, "Dumbo's Magic Feather," too, sister and friend of mine, Patricia!!!!!!! Oh, how I just so, so very much love and cherish your beautiful story about wearing your mother's favorite perfume when you go to see her. What a joy, blessing, and treasure this is for your darling Mom and such a fine and excellent memory for her coming back to her! WOW, Patricia, I'm just so, so very excited here that you're working on a brand-new novel with your fabulous character, Nora!!!!!! WOW!!!!! WOW here!!!!! I'm just so, so very glad, thrilled, overjoyed, and happy about this and just cannot wait and am bursting with such delightfully eager anticipation until it comes into fruition, sistahfriend Patricia!!!!!! YOU ARE just very gifted and talented and a brilliant creative genius and genius in general, Patricia, with the well-crafted words you compose with such excellence and radiance. WOW, this is just awesome here, my friend!!!!! AWWWWW, sister, I so love this very apt quote here from the Luke 4:18.YOU ARE anointed, Patricia, and such a woman of such faith, a good woman of such faith, of such spirit and Spirit as a good woman of God blessing ME and each and every one of us so, so much!!!!!! 🙂 <3 YOU'VE such an empowering Christian witness, my sistahfriend Christian woman, Patricia!!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 What a very fitting and applicable title here for this very engaging blog post article with a picture-perfect picture accompanying this very fine article to perfection perfectly adding to and complementing your succinct and cogent writing here!!!!!! AWWWWW, Patricia!!!!!!!! YOU ARE so much my and our very life's and eternal joy and blessing for each and every one of us, my and our dear, dearest, Patricia!!!!!! 🙂 <3 WOW, Patricia, WOW!!!!!! YAY for YOU, Patricia!!!!! WOW!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!! YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!!!!!! YAY for our very sistahhood and friendship, Patricia!!!!!! WOW!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!! YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!!!!!! I thank-YOU and Spirit CONTINUALLY FOR YOU, PATRICIA, AND FOR YOUR VERY PRESENCE IN MY VERY LIFE!!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 I just love you so, so very much and cherish YOU, Patricia, FOR ALWAYS!!!!!! Please have such a superbly super Sunday and a wondrously wonderful rest of your weekend and week ahead, and may all of your very days be so, so very especially blessed, Patricia!!!!!!! Spirit SO, SO VERY MUCH LOVES AND CHERISHES YOU A WHOLE LOT AND A WHOLE BUNCH AND SO DO I, TOO, A WHOLE LOT AND A WHOLE BUNCH, PATRICIA!!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 YOU ARE just the very greatest and the very best, Patricia, my friend!!!!!!! 🙂 <3

    Very Warmly and Sincerely FOR ALWAYS, my so, so very FOR ALWAYS awesomely special and dearly precious soul sistahfriend Christian Quaker white woman who you're FOR ALWAYS so, so very much, Patricia, sisterfriend of mine, with My and Spirit's VERY PEACE AND LOVE FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, sister of mine, AND WITH SUCH BLESSINGS AND SUCH VERY EVEN MORE BLESSINGS FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, friend of mine, 🙂 <3

    YOURS FOR ALWAYS soul sistahfriend Christian black woman AND FOR ALWAYS IN THE VERY GREAT SPIRIT OF UNITY AND SOLIDARITY, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa 🙂 <3

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.