Part 3: Because of or Despite
Receiving my sentence after running away at 15. About the transition from freedom to the detention center where I will spend the next 4 months.
It’s morning and after packing up my sleeping camp, I go to a public library and get on a computer. Knowing I have to keep changing location in case I am being tracked I go to different places every time I get online.
An email awaits me and from my mom she informs me that I have a court date in 3 weeks and will have a warrant for my arrest if I don’t return for court.
I debate about this and know that I want to work and get a job and a public record wouldn’t help that. I also know that this can’t go on forever. I decide to travel for the remaining 3 weeks and tell my mom I will come back for the court date. (Can only imagine her anxiety over those next 3 weeks.)
We arrange for me to fly back and meet her and go to the court date. I believe my plan was to come into town and leave again as soon as I could to go back on the road traveling. I was assuming I would have to run away again essentially as soon as I could.
When I turned up, we didn’t go home. My mom actually went straight to the detention center as she didn’t trust that I wouldn’t leave again. Which is really quite understandable.
So I spent two or three days in the detention center. All cement walls, very loud echoes in a place with nothing to absorb the sound vibrations. Sitting in a classroom with nothing to do. All around me other young people so upset about their lives. Eating only white bread peanut butter sandwiches as they didn’t have many vegetarian food options.
In the court room everything had already been arranged. I come in and they take off the handcuffs, my brother is there, again so embarrassed for him to be seeing me in this condition. I am wearing clothes provided by the detention center, many sizes too big, I don’t remember the color maybe blue.
Instantly the proceeding starts. I am told I am to go to Kansas for a minimum of two months in a girls reformatory school. No questions asked. No options. I am stunned. I realize my mom and my brother and the judge all decided this ahead of time. I realize there is no other option and I am stunned. Feeling powerless, misunderstood and trapped.
So off I go the next day, handcuffed to my suitcase with minimal belongings which had been packed by my mom and brought to the detention center. Two guards by my side at all times. We fly on an airplane and in the airport I get looks as I am handcuffed to the bag. Being handcuffed and un-handcuffed on the plane was quite a novel experience for me. Feeling like a real criminal. I just remember crying and crying and disbelief of what was happening.
Then we get in a car and drive for hours. They stop at a Qendy’s restaurant and buy me a baked potato. I barely touch it. Looking out the window planning how and when I can escape. Today doesn’t seem to be the day.
Arriving at the girls school at night, I can tell we’re so far away from anything because the stars are so bright. The crickets and the grasshoppers creating a real chaos in the night. I walk in exhausted, just ready to climb into bed. The warden surprised at how calm I am. I am shown to the sleeping quarters, 8 wooden bunk beds crammed in one tiny room, the lumpy figures of the other girls asleep under the covers.
I climb into the empty top bunk nearest the window so the guard can see me. Let’s talk more in the morning they say. Day 1.