There and Back Again

Living on house arrest continues to be a strange existence.  I’m rolling along in my little hamster ball, watching the world I can’t get to as I pass it by.  Every day that I’m able to leave the confines of my apartment, I think about freedom; not because I’m experiencing it, but because I’m observing it all around me.  I’m not always sure of what exactly I would be doing with it, if I had it, but I think about the possibilities.  I want now, more than ever, to know what I would truly most want to do with freedom.  I’m realizing more and more that there is much good to be taken from this year on house arrest.

I often think about time, and how valuable it is.  I think about all of the idle hours that I’ve logged in my life, doing nothing of note, and spending much of it thinking about what I’d really like to be doing.  For waste!  This awareness is a gift, and is capable of changing a person’s entire life, if and when it’s applied to life thereafter.

Being forced to have such a structured schedule, down to the minute, requires that I am constantly prioritizing.  I decide what is needed from the grocery store for the next week; I decide how I am going to spend my time at home when I don’t have the option to leave it; I decide how to spend my precious three hours of freedom every week, and who to spend that time with.

At times, we can feel so helpless when we bend to demanding circumstances that seem to leave us with so few options.  The truth is, though, that within every set of circumstances, however constraining, there are many options.  The only thing that we can have full control over is our state of mind, and how we bring that into action.

I dedicated my earned leave this week to a trip to the ocean.  I missed the old boy, and wanted to say hello.  I can’t immerse my ankle bracelet in water, or risk damaging it in the sand, but damn it if I can’t stand on the Venice walkway and look out on the waves.

I drove to Venice with a girlfriend, and met another friend there whom I’ve known for almost 9 years.  I met him in Italy during a backpacking trip after high school graduation, and we’ve remained close ever since.  Thank God that I traveled in my younger days, before I could have ever imagined that I’d be stripped of my passport by the US government.  I will get it back only after my probation is over, in 3 months short of 3 years from now.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do once I’m off of house arrest.  Stay in LA?  It’s the only home I’ve known in my adult life.  I love it, though I’ll admit that I miss my home in Washington.  Absence has made my heart ache for Seattle and my loved ones there.

I could go abroad?  Nope- the government nipped that one in the bud- but, in a few years, when I get it back, it will be game on for international travel, with exception of some countries who don’t allow felons entrance.

I actually think that it might be time for me to do some traveling in the US after my ankle and I are free again.  I’ll be in need of some exploration.  It’s safe to say that the 580 sq. ft. of my apartment will have been thoroughly charted at the end of this.  It may be time to leave.

It may turn out that I’m like Frodo, in Lord of the Rings, and after my mission is accomplished, I’ll simply be unfit for normal life again.  That is to suggest that it was ever normal…

257 days to go.


15 thoughts on “There and Back Again

  1. This is becoming more profound as the days pass… So you are nearly 1/3 of the way there, Meili… I am proud of you.

    I do want you to know that I am realizing through your posts, how it is that I take for granted my freedom. I am learning to be more and more grateful for my time, and more and more mindful of how I spend it.

    Thank you for these, girl.
    Chin up.

    God Bless.

  2. Meili, what great insights you are being granted. I never thought about your passport or where you can go and not go even once you’re through this journey. But i am a believer that there are so many cool places to see and things to do in the US. It will/can give you an appreciation for where we came from as a nation and it’s worthy to note. You need to see the horses at Assateague Island, the sea turtles lay eggs in the low country of South Carolina, the dune grasses of Martha’s Vineyard, the lobster boats coming in at the end of a catch in Gloucester. Just driving on I80 from New Jersey to NW Indiana was an eye-opener when I was in college. See the Great Lakes, the beaches are wonderful and in the winter, the ice formations are truly amazing. See the Caverns in Kentucky and the flatlands of Northern Texas. Cornfields, farms and church steeples dot our countrysides. See the Appalachian Trail, the Trail of Tears, and more seashells than you could ever count in Sanibel Island off the Florida Gulf Coast. You will not run out of things to do or places to go and just hangout in a local diner and talk to the cook with no teeth and a heart of gold.
    I am loving watching you grow. And also… I know you are missed by people in Washington as well.

    • Thank you :). Thank you for your thoughtful response, and for your useful advice!!! I think I might have to take you up on more than one of these travel suggestions!!!

  3. Hey there,

    I just listened to the Bagged & Boarded podcast with you (I’ve been backed up on a lot of podcasts), and noticed your Washingtonian accent, and then it was confirmed by Matt teasing you over “begs”. What “small town near Seattle” are you from?

      • Ahh, alright. That’s a bit far from me.

        If you hit Seattle when you gain your freedom, and want a great sammich, I’ll treat you to a place near Fremont. 🙂

  4. Does the contrary and startling thought that your incarceration is going by too fast ever intrude on your more sensible inner conversation? Not very likely, I suppose. But time is flowing by. There is work to be done and so much to learn. It must be true that in this moment you know more about freedom than the rest of us. It’s something you have to reach for that the rest of us think we have.

    I think you’re hitting your stride in this blog. I enjoy reading your pieces. This most recent entry “There and Back Again” is the best so far, I think–taking us with you as you turn inward….

  5. You can come to Atlanta and we can travel some on the East Coast… Nashville is nice and a change from the West Coast for sure 🙂

  6. I am on house arrest too. Your story is inspiring and makes me want to write a blog too! lol – Makes me appreciate the little things. I know I can’t leave Phila but I am not sure if the same rules apply even when I am just on the Probation as well. I hope not because I want to be able to tour my music. Well, I guess this is my punishment. It will all be over soon and hey, its better than jail right??!

  7. I thought I was the only one who compared myself to a hamster/gerbil in the ball with the same scenario with minor changes each day to make it a little more exciting, LOL!

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