Monday, October 04, 2004

The Old Meets the Young

It's rare that I would run into someone who did time with me 15 years ago. With 33 prisons in the state of California, a prisoner can be transferred to any one of them.

When I met this African American brother named Nate, he was 45 years old and I was 18. We were in the notorious maximum security prison San Quentin serving our life sentences. I was a skinny kid who was still growing and spoke very little English. Nate was a worldly guy who knew his way around the harsh environment of prison. Somehow we made a connection and he always looked out for me.

I remember one day we were standing on the upper yard of the prison waiting to go back ot our cells. Some guy walked by me in a hurry and bumped me unexpectedly. Somehow, I didn't budge and stood my ground. Nate was shocked. To this day, he still believes that I know some secret kungfu.

We went to different prisons in 1989 due to prison needs. I hadn't seen him until he transferred here last month. Nate was able to catch up with me this afternoo on the yard. I just finished exercising so he was surprised by how muscular I was.

We walked around the track for 45 minutes catching up on our lives and reminiscing about the good old days. By the time we finished, he was surprised how well I had turned out in the last 15 years. He thought that I would be all tatooed down, caught up in prison gangs, and all doped out like so many youngsters he had encountered. After being in prison for 34 years, he has experienced many changes.

I told him education is a powerful thing. It's good seeing Nate under the circumstances.

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