The following letter I wrote to a young man who is not in free society. So far we have been corresponding and getting to know each other a few months now. He is in an extraordinary personality. Although I am more than twice his age, he is mature and smart enough to have and hold an in-depth conversation with me. He is wise beyond his years and a true pleasure to talk to. I wrote my first letter in my truest fashion. I told him a story about our first interaction. Today in prison are many highways to the outside world. Cell phones and the internet are a couple of those avenues. They are considered ‘contraband’ but they are a fairly easy commodity. I met D on the gram. He found me looking through hashtags and after examining my profile found himself interested in me. That’s what he told me. D is the guy on the bus. I shared with him my perspective on the day that we ‘met’. Rather the day that he DM’d me on Instagram for the first time.

I hope this letter finds you well and in good spirits. I would like to introduce myself, my name is Vickie, and I read about your story through I am intrigued by yours and many other stories that I have discovered mostly through my PoliSci course. My professor has an affinity for the underserved, oppressed and undervalued portion of society.

I am in college full time, and I am pursuing a degree in nursing. PoliSci is a requirement to earn a Bachelors degree and I am enjoying the class very much. This is my second round in the college experience. I earned an associates in science degree in 1998, and practiced dental hygiene from then until 2017 when I was forced to retire due to occupational injury.

The reason for this letter is I wanted to reach out because I believe that we could have a mutually beneficial friendship. You are a survivor of some tough circumstances and although I am not in quite the same predicament as you, I am also a survivor. It is my hope that we can be a source of encouragement to each other.

I keep typing and backspacing unsure of where to start! Lol! It is an awkward thing to write a letter, or even start a conversation, with a person that you don’t know so I will begin with a day that I experienced just recently in late September.

It was the afternoon of a warm sunny day and I was on the noisy city bus. I had just left my school in a bit of a frazzled state because it was the middle of my week of midterms. Sometimes I will ride the bus off campus just around the corner to have a moment to get myself together! Then I go back to school and get it done. This day was crazy hectic. I had gotten the easiest tests behind me. My chemistry midterm was going to be tough for me, and I was having test anxiety. Many people suffer from test anxiety and I am no exception. For me it happens when I don’t feel confident in the subject matter. Chemistry is challenging because there are so many steps and formulas to remember that it is a difficult subject to master. So while I was in a mid-panic on the bus I noticed a guy watching me. I normally keep my head down on the city bus. The types of people that ride the bus usually are strange. They reek of alcohol or body odor and some appear as if they just escaped 3B! This guy wasn’t like what I just described. As a matter of fact he was attractive and appeared well kept. Normally, to avoid interactions I wear my beats and surf the gram on my phone. You know how if someone stares at you long enough you begin to sense it? Well this guy was determined either to memorize the structure of my face, or make me look his way! Finally after a while of his stare burning the side of my face I looked his way. He says, “Are you a student or a professor? I’m confused.” “I am a student” I replied. I figured his confusion was because I don’t look like the age of a first year university student. Anyway I was already frantically trying to center myself and he was bugging me so I didn’t care to be cordial or considerate at that moment. He asked me another question and I just shrugged and blew him off. At that point it seemed like the longest bus ride I ever took around the corner! This guy was annoying me and I my only escape was to get off this bus! The bus driver pulled over to pick up a wheelchair bound rider and that takes extra time to put out the ramp! Dear God get me away from this man!! I finally say (in a not so nice tone)”If there is something that you want you need to get to the point cause I don’t have too much time or patience today!” I am sure the typical guy would have copped an attitude in reaction to my dismissive demeanor which is what I was hoping, but that is not what he did. Him did not react, as if somehow moved by my actions. In full control of himself, instead he calmly responded, “What’s got your swivel unbalanced?” At that moment I wasn’t even paying attention. I mean I heard him but I was listening really. I was focused on that shady bus stop just around the next corner. That was my place of solace and I couldn’t wait to get there. As soon as I got to my stop I hurried to the door jumped down to the sidewalk and made my way to zen.

Sitting there in the shade. Feeling the coolness of the air and listening to the quiet I reflected on the man on the bus. I thought to myself what the hell is a swivel? I called my best friend and told her ,”Girl! Got another one!” She says “Now what? Bitch I swear you’re a magnet for trolls!” “I don’t know what it is” I reply “I try to stay incognito on the bus!” Al states, in her usual boisterous tone, “I do! You shouldn’t be looking like you look!” To put it plainly my best friend Al thinks I am the most beautiful woman (inside and out)walking around. She says she’d marry me if I had the right equipment but I don’t so her husband gets that honor. I get to be the next best relationship in her life. Lol. I’ll take it cause I know the love she has for me.

I go on about my day and don’t really think about the man on the bus anymore.

A day or two later in my mind I recollect the interaction again. Not so much the conversation but it was his conduct that stuck with me. In my frustration that had nothing to do him I scoffed at him. The poise he held impressed me. So much so that I decided the next interaction we had I would apologize and hope that he would accept.

I learned something from the guy on the bus that day that I now practice. Instead of allowing someone’s behavior to influence how you react, stay true to yourself and demonstrate self control. Maybe I can, like my friend on the bus be a positive influence too! Well if you made it to the end of this letter I hope you learned something too. I hope to be able to write you again soon. Be blessed!

Sincerely me.