Six Hours of Freedom


“Before” my first haircut in over a year…

“Do you cut your own bangs?”


“You do a good job.  But, it’s extremely uneven.  Don’t mess with it after I’m done.”

I pondered what the hair stylist could have meant as I sat in his chair.  I decided to take it as a compliment and disregard the rest.  No time for back-handed compliments.  This hair, with all of its split ends and “extremely uneven” bangs, had been to prison and back with me.

I was recently reassigned to a new probation officer.  My former PO left the business altogether.  I imagine that it can be an unpleasant job at times.  Under new supervision, I get to have six hours of “Earned Leave” every week in lieu of a distinction between “Earned” and “Essential.”  Every PO does things a little differently, and I got lucky that some adjustments have ended up in my favor.

It was my first six hour stretch of Leave.  The day felt significant.  Not only did I have the most “freedom” that I’d experienced in the past eight months, I also had that happy news that my girlfriend from prison was being released from incarceration in the desert on the same day.  (When I say “girlfriend–” I mean a female friend.  In the context of “my girlfriend from prison,” the term might be especially misleading.)  She called me after she was released.  I remembered what that release had felt like for me, though my friend had been “down” about nine times longer than I had.  It’s safe to say that leaving prison is the best part about going to prison.

I drove over the hill to a salon in the Valley.  I hadn’t had my hair cut since before I was in the clink, and, as in my trip for a pedicure, there was work to be done.  I left after an hour with shorter, healthier locks.  Yay.


From the salon, I set out to drive to an office in the Valley.  One of my close friends is an actress on a TV show, and she had invited me to sit in on her rehearsal for an upcoming episode.  I was excited to see her and be there during her rehearsal, but after reentering the LA freeway traffic, I realized that I had to cancel and go somewhere closer to my apartment to ensure that I’d be home before my curfew.  Oh, house arrest.

I sat in my car with two hours left on the Earned Leave clock, not knowing where to go and feeling discouraged.  I called some friends, but on such last minute, it seemed impossible to plan anything.  My calls were met by voicemails.  I decided to reroute and head to one of my favorite places in LA.

I drove to The Grove, an upscale, outdoor shopping center in the heart of LA.  I noticed a Pottery Barn Kids and stepped inside to look for a gift for my close friend’s son.  She is bringing her baby, whom I’ve yet to meet, to visit me soon, and I thought it would be nice to have a token gift for the infant when they arrive.

I felt a sense of comfort when I entered the store.  However, my rise in spirits was abruptly met by what I observed to be quite the opposite effect on shoppers as I walked in.  I was wearing a t-shirt dress and wedges, blatantly exposing my GPS bracelet.  It hadn’t occurred to me that the image of an ankle-bound felon wandering around a children’s store could be somewhat alarming to onlookers.  I paused a moment, observing two examples of a parent and a young child skirt past me, hurrying to the opposite end of the store and tightening a grip on their child’s hand, shooting me dirty looks over their shoulder.  I felt like throwing my hands up and yelling out, “It was POT, OKAY?!!!”  just to get the record straight.  I considered leaving for propriety’s sake, but then decided to go on about my business.   Who cares?  These people don’t know me, and I frankly found their reactions very amusing.  It’s almost better if they don’t know why I’m on house arrest.  Let ‘em wonder.  It’s not like I wandered into the store dressed like Barney, armed with a fishing net and a bag of candy.


I found a stuffed animal of an elephant in a corner of the store.  I picked him up and saw on his tag that his name was “Elephant.”  I smiled because it reminded me of “Turtle.”  A kind salesgirl offered to wrap him up for me, and I left the store feeling better about the day.

115  days to go.

3 thoughts on “Six Hours of Freedom

  1. Oh that brings me back….to being hugely pregnant on a hot, late summer day, and going out on one of my leaves, in braids, flipflops, cute maternity dress, and anklet. Take the looks you got shopping in the kids’ store, add a gallon of judgement and a scoop of scorn….and that’s what I got. I wish I could find all those people and show them what a devoted mom I am today.

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