A story begins where it begins. Tomorrow my story may begin 40 years ago but today it begins here.
I sat in the back of the cop car, handcuffed, watching through a blur of tears and window bars as the landscape of my life disappeared. The house faded behind the trees as we sped down the little dirt track away from my home, my doggies, the land, the community and the man I loved.
It was a typical, hot, sunny, sultry North Georgia Mountains August day – August 20th 2012 to be precise. I had just hung out the washing on the line and was walking back to my house, barefoot through the grass when I heard the words ‘Ma’am’. I turned round to see a cop emerging from the trees behind the garage.
My first thought was to run. I wanted him to put a bullet in me and end it. Instead I froze. I realize now that he wouldn’t have shot me unless I’d indicated I had a gun and was going to use it. Instead he would have thrown me to the ground with 10,000 volts from his taser. I could not escape my fate.
Two hours later I was being shunted into the sheriffs office to be ‘processed’.
Standing in front of the computerized fingerprint machine I knew that it was only a matter of time before they discovered I was an illegal immigrant. If I’d entered the country illegally there would be no record of me, but I hadn’t. I’d been fingerprinted on entry.
They made me strip and put on a set of ‘oranges’ and a pair of matching fake crocs. I had no underwear or socks. I was given a plastic box containing a mini set of toiletries, a worn white towel and a thin, blue plastic covered foam mattress, two sheets and a grey blanket with blue checks. A male cop marched me down the corridor and opened the door of D wing where I was assigned the top bunk in D5, one of only 8 cells in this small women’s block.
My husband found out when he got home from work and rushed to bail me out. The UK debit card he used failed . There was $10k in the account. I watched out of my narrow cell window as came out of the jail, got into his truck and sat there crying. I banged on the window and caught his eye… the sadness and depth of despair was palpable. Fifteen minutes later I was called to the front where I was handed a piece of paper stating that ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement s] had put a hold on me.
I went back to my ‘pod’ and lay down in the empty unused shower room. I cried and cried until there were no more tears.
My husband had been arrested on the same charges a week earlier than me and had been bailed out by friends. On the recommendation of a drug dealer I befriended in jail, he hired a lawyer giving him virtually every cent we had. The lawyer was paid to defend my husband and influence my case. Two phone calls later he had got my bail reduced and persuaded the bondsman to go surety for me, despite me being an ‘international flight’ risk.
If he hadn’t done that I’d still be in that jail today, awaiting trial. As I filled out paperwork with the bondsman I saw my beloved standing behind the glass and bars. The next 48 hours would be decisive. The hope I’d held onto for two days was shattered when, at 8 am on Wednesday 17th October 2012, 6 hours before my hold was due to expire, the ICE man came for me.
I was now officially in the custody of the Department of Homeland Swastika and I was transferred to Irwin County Jail in South Georgia 6 hours drive away from my home and my husband. My last ‘meeting’ with him was a 30 minute visitation, behind a glass screen, talking through a telephone, with one hand pressed against the glass and tears in our eyes, just the movies except this was for real. It wouldn’t end after 2 hours of screen time.
I clambered into the front bench seat of a transport van. There was one other occupant, a young South American male, sitting in the back. He was in a straight jacket and had a plastic gag strapped round his mouth.
I was kept in Irwin County Jail for three months.
On the 17th January 2013, I was hauled from my cell at 1.30 am and told to pack my stuff. It was time. I was finally being deported; barred for 10 years and likely forever because of the felony charges hanging over my head. I had lost everything that I truly loved. And now I guess I have a few Orange is the New Black stories to tell.
I came back to my parents home in Eastbourne on the South Coast of England with a heavy heart. I had spent most of my life escaping the clutches of my mother and her fear and neuroses and cover up lies. I had vowed never to return committing myself to a life where I could neither work nor drive.
I had led a life of adventure finally running a workshop and coaching business and being published 3 times by Harper Collins. I became depressed about it all and heard the call to adventure yet again. I wanted to go into the woods and write. I meeting my husband, and joining his mission to return to earth, live simply on the land, learn the old timey ways and wake people up.
Sitting on the plane gorging myself on plane food I said to myself ‘when I get back I’m going to make Eastbourne ‘edible’ . I had no idea how I was going to do that but I trusted that I would find a way. And I did… almost.
I’d only been here two months when my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. After his death in October 2013, I faced the death of my own freedom. I became a reluctant carer for my mother. I don’t like my mother and both my brother and I suffer from a pile of unresolved anger in relation to her. Now that she has dementia, there is no possibility of resolution. I vowed when I jumped to America that I would never return not even if one of my parents died. I guess this is some kind of Karmic destiny. I find myself in another kind of jail that has no bars but is equally as oppressive.
Every day I experience my mothers dementia, irrationality, depression, grief and fear. I am being unwillingly re-inoculated with everything I fought so hard to shake off. My own sadness and depression is fuelled by hers. I pull away constantly to save myself from this energetic vampirism but ever moment I spend in this place, I feel my energy being sapped away.
And I am poor. I live on a carers allowance soon to become a meagre state pension. I did not make provision for my old age. I didn’t want to. I wanted to trust that it would all be OK. But until I can escape this system, I see no hope in a world where everything is about money. I have lost my best friend and spiritual partner and the animals I loved so deeply and the land that revived me and the community that I had grown to love and I find myself going through the motions of living
Sometimes I feel such a darkness come up on me as I stop being in the moment and think and cogitate and project and let fear lead me…
One friend tells me that the darkness is here to grow our souls and that it is through these challenges that we will ascend spiritually. When the darkness is upon me I hate it, as I resist rather than flow through. Sometimes all I want to do is go back to bed and watch TV and gorge on unhealthy crap. Sometimes I feel as if I have lost all faith in humanity and my ability to emerge. And even as I write from a place of more hope I have edited this gloominess to reflect the other side.. the over the hill.. th enext event horizon.
It’s as if the dark side of me wants to destroy any spark of who I am deep down as if coming from a profound self hate. At the time I despair.. and ask can I mine those depths and find me again. And in those moments, I don’t know. I just don’t know.
I am 61 years of age and have lived a life of wild adventure. I cannot see how the remaining years of my life will pan out but I know that I do not want to grow old eking out a living in a cold studio flat cut off from life and nature.
I have a dream of living in community, on the land. All I have to offer are my energy, gifts, skills and knowledge and a tiny pension which I would gladly give in return for a place that I can call home among people young and old who are dedicated to caring for this planet and each other.
In these times darkness is a constant companion.. the energy of the world is disturbed and rumbling and fearful as people close down in the face of financial and planetary crisis. I fear for what will come and I don’t know if we can turn it around because so many people are asleep in a matrix-style illusion that is cracking open every moment.
Yet there must be hope.. we have to come back to the here and now and do what we can.. If the doo doo hits the fan then better to have lived and tried and striven than to have bent beneath the dark yoke and given in…
Beautifully written Sunny. You are an inspiration