January 2nd, 2019
“Yeah, we all could use a little mercy now
I know we don’t deserve it but we need it anyhow
We hang in the balance dangle ‘tween hell and hallowed ground
And every single one of us could use some mercy now
Every single one of us could use some mercy now
Every single one of us could use some mercy now”
“Mercy Now” by Mary Gauthier
I drove over to her new home today. She got out of the halfway house a week ago, and now the DOC (Department of Corrections) has her in TLP (Temporary Living Placement). TLP roughly translates to a shitty apartment in the hood. It’s better than being on the streets, but not that much better. Yeah, she won’t freeze to death, and she has a bed and a bathroom. It’s something. And I guess that something is better than nothing. We should be grateful for little things.
She has a curfew. She was on lock down on New Year’s Eve, and on New Year’s Day. She had to stay in her apartment. Her probation officer has her on a very short leash. She wears an ankle bracelet, and the cops can track her by her phone, if need be. She’s not in jail, but she is pretty damn close. Every day is an exercise in semi-freedom. Her first bold, revolutionary move after getting out of rehab was to dye her hair hot pink. I’m glad that she did that.
She needed to do some laundry today, and she needed to do it our house. We drove home in the snow. Her dog, Shocky, greeted her with enthusiasm at the door. She put her clothes into the washer, and then she settled down into an bedroom to snuggle with Shocky and watch Netflix. I watched with her.
We decided to watch/join “Bandersnatch”, the new interactive film from “Black Mirror”. It’s a high tech version of the paperback books we used to read that had multiple possible endings. She made the choices offered for the characters on the screen, and then we observed the consequences. It wasn’t quite as scary as I thought it might be. Some of the movie was funny. The protagonist, a video game inventor from 1984, gets a mysterious message on his ancient computer that says: “I am watching you on Netflix”. It’s hilarious in a dark, twisted way.
She asked me, “What if somebody is watching us, just like we are watching the guy in this story?”
I don’t really want to go there.
Eventually, her laundry was done, and so was the movie. Shocky was bored. She asked if I wanted to drive her home. I told her I would do so whenever she was ready. In about half an hour, we started the trip south to Kenosha. Traffic wasn’t as bad as I had expected. It took only forty-five minutes to get her place.
She spent most of the ride switching radio stations at odd moments. It was her ADD kicking in. At other times she looked at her phone. Sometimes, she just stared straight ahead.
At one point, she told me in a voice devoid of emotion,
“Thanks for taking me to your house. Thanks for everything today.”
I replied, “It’s okay. I am glad to do it.”
I went on, “I want to do this.”
The truth is that I really did want to do it. I’ve come way too close to losing this girl forever. I have been scared too many times. All I want to do is be with her a bit longer. I just want for us to be together while we can be together.
I am haunted by the words of a elderly religious sister. Out of ignorance, I went to this woman for spiritual direction. She told me bitterly that this young woman was using me, just manipulating me. I told the sister,
“I don’t fucking care. I know that sometimes she is playing me. So what? It doesn’t matter to me any more. She is suffering. I am going to help her.”
We could all use some mercy now.