“Short-timing” is a state of being in which prisoners get close to leaving and their mind starts transitioning to the outside world. I think it’s fair to say I’m starting to experience this. As I get closer to leaving prison, I’m allowing myself to think about all the things I miss from the outside world, the things I’m really looking forward to.
I look forward to spending time with my son more than anything else. It’s been almost 4 years since I’ve seen him, and missing him has been the only thing that has consistently caused me heartache during my incarceration. I miss other things on a consistent basis, but on a much lesser scale, things like good food and the opposite sex. I miss freedom too, but it’s different. You get used to the loss of freedom when you’re in prison and don’t think about it as something missing.
Food is probably the most discussed thing prisoners say they are looking forward to. I don’t know if it’s successful TV advertising, but most of the prisoners I’ve talked to about what they are going to eat when they first get out have told me it’s some sort of fast food. Fast food wouldn’t be my first choice, but I think anything different will be welcome. Sushi is probably my favorite food, but I can’t say I have found myself thinking about it much.
There are certain foods I’ve found myself craving. Mostly fresh things like a ripe tomato picked straight from a garden. There are other somewhat specific things I’ve thought about on multiple occasions that I wouldn’t classify as a favorite, but I find myself really looking forward to. Numerous times I’ve found myself wanting to jump in a lake, but I’ll be out of here in January, so a swimming pool will have to do. For whatever reason, I want the feeling of completely submerging myself in water – probably because it’s a feeling I just can’t have here.
Perhaps not as odd is my desire to take a walk in the great outdoors and be alone. In here, a prisoner is never far from other people. The only place I can get more than a few yards away is out in the yard and still then, there are towers with guards in it watching me and cameras everywhere recording my every move.
I imagine there’s going to be so many things that I don’t consciously miss, but will really enjoy when I get to experience them for the first time in a long time – things like pants that zip or button, windows that open, showers with adjustable heat, etc. I can’t imagine another event with so much build-up; it’s exciting.
I’m eager to rejoin society and start a career. So many people have been warning me how hard life is going to be, especially as a parolee and the label of felon. Many of these people I respect and are older and wiser than me. There are definitely some aspects of my new life I’m not thrilled about: starting over with almost no belongings, carrying the label of felon, dealing with more stress, etc. It’s going to be more complicated and unexpected things will no doubt come up. Hard is being addicted to drugs. Hard is missing my son grow up. All that other stuff could be described as a challenge — one I’m really looking forward to.
Brian Wood, formerly of Layton, is an inmate at the Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison. He pleaded guilty to nine felony charges for offenses from 2011 to 2014, including counts of burglary, drug possession and prescription fraud. He could spend up to 25 years in prison, depending on parole hearings.