Shelly and May were planning a weekend outing, maybe a road trip, it was early Fall and the drama of the Summer loves has long since fallen off our lips and we were finally looking to new starts. I, more so in different ways then them…

Shelly – How about the weekend of the 5th, I’m off all that week, aren’t you ? ( looking at me)

Me – Yes, but that is when I am going to do my volunteering.

Shelly – Oh, that sounds great, where are you volunteering, I’ll go do it with you.

( I looked at her, I looked at my Summer Shandy beer, the last of our reserve of the recently passed season, I muttered.)

Me – I don’t think that…

Shelly – I don’t mind doing it, where are you going to do it ? Like the Library, or the Food Bank or… ( her eyes meet mine and I think she is finally catching on.) Well ??? ( no such luck, I had to tell her. )

Me –  It’s environmental, Shelly. I don’t think…

Shelly –  Like …hippies? Tree huggers? I got new hiking shoes because Scott loves hiking and I know we will go sometimes. Why don’t you want me to go?

Me – Oh, you can come, dear, it’s great it’s 3 days, 8 hours and only $160+ dollars to do it.

Shelly – You made a donation??

Me –  It’s community service.

Shelly – I don’t know why you paid to volunteer….

Me –  SHELLY, it’s court -ordered community service. I’m picking up trash, on the side of the road and yes there is a fee. So by all means, join me.

Shelly – Ugh… no. You should have just told me this volunteering was “hashtag” just for fellons.

Me – ( blank stare, swig of the beer)

Shelly assured me she’d be fine and find something to do since May was working and I was doing my special volunteering for felons. Every time she said it made me want to vomit but my throat was too dry. Community service was my last major deed to fulfill for my sentencing, and though my crime was almost 10 months ago by this time…I was still struggling and still ill and still paying.

I had my friends I discussed it with, and I had the times I wanted to forget that there was still more hurdles to jump. I feel like a jackass for even writing this, the mere thought going through your head as you read this that I am a “felon” and want sympathy is sickening. I don’t need sympathy. I needed then just a bit more strength to face this piece of a shit-puzzle and finally put this behind me.

What I am describing to you in these passages are the inner pieces of fear and worry and hurdles that real people face everyday. That being guilty doesn’t out weigh what pain feels like. Acting a fool doesn’t remove the sting of embarrassment and having to again fully taste humility over that one night, 10 months ago, was … a lot to brace for at that time.

There are two kinds of people in this world, the ones that understand and the ones that say they don’t have too – because this shit is “just for felons.”


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