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Thursday, August 20, 2009

The End to Romance -- August 4, 2009

I have been incarcerated for over 16 years, and I have found it is a very rare occasion to learn of a man who has a loyal wife or girlfriend for any length of time. Wives will typically leave a prisoner within a couple of years, and girlfriends are even shorter lived. Some women will stay in contact to various degrees, but they are not faithful. For this reason, and others, I have pushed away any attempt at a long term or permanent relationship.

In IDOC, it is extremely difficult to keep a relationship. Visitation at Stateville is of the poorest quality, and conjugal visits are not permitted in Illinois. Even kissing your girlfriend or wife for longer than a few seconds is prohibited. A French kiss or any degree of touching could get you sent to segregation. Unlike prisons in other countries, there are no furloughs for good behavior. Inmates can write, and they can talk on the phone, or talk across a table in a crowded visit room.

Like a number of prisoners, I have placed personal ads on the Internet, and wrote a woman I met through a listing. I have placed three personal ads in the last seven years. From these ads, I have met many women from various countries. Typically, I only write for a limited time, and even when there is a strong connection, or a relationship is formed, I end it after it has grown to its potential. There is no point trying to get a girl to be faithful to you indefinitely. Eventually, I know they will become dissatisfied. It is better to leave a relationship on a high note than to watch it wither and die.

At the time of my arrest, I was not dating. However, a few former girlfriends who saw me on the television news, came to see me. I was surprised that my first visitor at the county jail was not my parents or other family, but a girl I dated a few years before. After my conviction and sentence to life in prison, these girls disappeared. One came to see me in prison a few times. During her last visit, I explained to her that "life" literally meant for the rest of my life. I did not see her again.

For many years, I accepted my plight, and figured that no woman would want to be my girlfriend. Even if they were, I thought it would be meaningless. Eventually, though, my loneliness got the best of me, and I placed my first personal ad. I did not receive too many responses from that ad, and initially I was not surprised. Who would want to write a prisoner? However, I have since learned the website had poor service, and had a low outreach. Despite the few responses I received, I nevertheless met a young, pretty woman from a small village in England. I wrote to her for almost a year, but when my first clemency petition was denied, I grew uncaring. I realized our relationship was doomed to failure, and after writing a few unfriendly letters, I quit writing. I still remember her, and am unhappy about how our relationship ended.

Most prisoners seek out women to hustle them out of money, or to have them take care of them. Prisoners are usually poor, and have no funds coming in. Men will even romance unattractive females if they will send money orders. This behavior is particularly loathsome to me. I have a strong set of traditional values, and believe a man is supposed to care for his woman, and not vice versa. I would be ashamed to have a woman provide for me. Thus, it has been difficult to accept the limitations of my life in prison, and to be unable to offer any future, potential, or much of anything to a woman but my companionship.

I was given a list of women seeking correspondence, friendship, love, etc., by another prisoner. He did not want it because they were all women in prison, and in fact, he was angry that he had been ripped off buying the list. Women in prison were in the same predicament as we were, and would not be able to send any money. Well, one man's garbage is another man's gold, and I quickly secured the list before he threw it out. I thought the list was perfect. Here were women who were unable to date men, and were lonely for male companionship. I could pretend to be a free man, instead of a lowly prisoner with no future.

I chose five women from the long list, and after scribbling out their names and addresses, I gave it to my cellmate. For the fun of it, he wrote 10 women. Only one woman responded to the five letters I wrote, and it was not the person I wrote, but a friend of hers. Apparently, she was sharing as well.

The name of the woman I wrote was Krista, and she was at a minimum security prison in Indiana. Although she was not the girl I chose from the list, I was not disappointed. Krista was an attractive female who I enjoyed writing. The problem with pretending to be free, however, was that she often hinted about sharing my phone number, or coming to visit her. It bothered me very much. I could not do this, or be more than just her penpal. As her out-date approached, I became disheartened. I would not be able to pick her up from prison, and our relationship would have to die. In my last letter to her, I told her the truth, and even sent her copies of newspaper articles covering my arrest. The news media frequently accused me of the notorious Browns' Chicken murders in Palatine, Illinois, and wrote about my conviction and sentence to natural life for murder/accountability. I was surprised when she wrote me back, and told me that she still wanted to be a couple. However, I knew, sadly, it was doomed. There was no way the woman I wrote could be faithful to me for long. I never wrote her again.

Since Krista, I have placed two personal ads on better websites, and have received numerous responses. I wrote the women that I connected with for usually a half year before severing our relationships. I would rather put an end to these relationships than have them betray me or write me a "Dear John" letter. Some men in prison could care less if their wife or girlfriend sleeps with other men as long as they send them money, or have intentions to be with them if they are ever freed. I could never accept what these other men do, and would rather keep relationships brief than take a chance on betrayal. I have made a few exceptions though.

I wrote a beautiful woman from Canada for a long time. Her husband had abandoned her because she had become disabled due to multiple sclerosis. I knew this woman would not betray me, and I did not have to worry about her going to single clubs. I also wrote a girl for an extended period of time who was saving herself for marriage. She was cute, intelligent, and wrote the most creative and romantic letters I have ever received. I wrote her quite often and we became close. However, after my third clemency petition was rejected, I again sought the end of the relationship. I still think about Megan from time to time.

Although I quit writing Megan, and a couple of others, I could not bring myself to cease writing one girl from Finland named Susanna. Despite her difficulty with English, and her quiet nature, we connected on a deep level. Susanna was very special to me, and I did not want to let her go. Against my better judgment, I decided to attempt a permanent relationship. I bought her a ring, and she promised to be mine until I was freed. We wrote 10 page letters to each other, and I called her on the phone often. During her school breaks, she would travel to America for a few months to visit me. However, alas, the pretty butterfly I had captured had to be set free. I was compelled to let her go after my fourth clemency petition was ignored, and a successive post conviction appeal filing continued to be delayed.

This week, I received a letter from Susanna. She had made travel plans for the weekend to be with another man. It is a sad development, but one that was inevitable. We were living a dream, a dream that we were to wake up from sooner or later. Despite how I may entertain flights of fantasy, it is my fate to walk this road alone.