1. Taking a shower when they want…
“When you’re incarcerated, you cannot take a shower when you want to,” Remy said. “And if you’re in the Special Housing Unit, you only get to take a shower once every other day. That’s only on the weekdays: Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Saturday and Sunday it’s not happening. I heard about an interview with Chris Brown where he said it was horrible he could only take a shower once every other day. I was going through the same thing but I had my menstrual. So I’m like, ‘Oh, really? You think that’s bad? I’m dying here.’ There are issues that women have that men don’t have and that’s not taken into consideration.”
2. …for as long as they want.
“These showers are for 10 minutes only. And 10 minutes goes by really, really fast,” Remy said. “Don’t even think about washing your hair. They’ll turn off the water and you’ll get caught with shampoo in your hair, and then you’re just stuck like that. When I was home, I would be in the shower forever. Leaning on the wall. You have a radio in there. You leave your conditioner for extra long. But when someone has a clock waiting to turn the water off on you, it gets serious.”
3. Never running out of essentials.
“You can’t go to the store yourself and buy soap if you need soap,” she explained. “You literally have to call someone and wait till they’re able to bring it to you. So if you run out of soap, what do you do? I think people really take for granted, just their freedom to be able to wash their body.”
4. Choosing what to eat.
“It’s one thing to be on a diet. Everyone who’s ever been on a diet knows that can be torture. But in prison, you can only get 35 pounds of food a month and 35 pounds is not a lot when everything you can eat comes in a can. You’re only able to have pre-cooked foods that are packaged a certain way, either in a can or a bag. It can’t say ‘keep frozen,’ but those are the half-decent ones, that are flash frozen. You can’t get fresh eggs.”
5. Keeping up with technology.
“I read that technology is moving so rapidly today that if you miss one year, it’s the equivalent of what it would have been like to miss five years back in the ’80s or early ’90s,” Remy said. “So to have been gone for six and a half years, I’ve missed about 30 years of technology. It is not easy! I have not had any type of phone, any type of internet period. I’m trying to still figure out how to work everything on my phone, all the different applications. Now when you need to know something, you go online. But if you don’t have that, you literally have to go look it up in a book. And who makes books nowadays? People are not even making books.”
6. Being able to press “skip,” “repeat,” or “shuffle.”
“You can’t have iPods or MP3 players. You couldn’t even have CDs. We were still listening to cassettes,” she said. “So you actually have to rewind a tape to get to the song you like. If you wanna keep hearing a song, you literally have to keep holding the button. Or god forbid your favorite tape pops and you’re sitting there with all this string, breaking open a tape that you don’t care about to fix it. Since I’ve been home, I’m enjoying being like, ‘I want to hear it again.’”
7. Getting their teeth cleaned.
“You can only go once a year. You can’t say, ‘Well, I think I need my teeth cleaned.’ They’re like, ‘Well, we’re looking here on the schedule and you got it done 11 months ago so ask us again next month.’”
8. Getting a haircut they love….
“They have a cosmetology place where people do nails and things like that, but they’re not trained,” Remy said. “They’re learning, but they’re practicing on you. You don’t wanna go and get your hair cut by someone that just learned how to do it last week. It’s not like you can fix it with a wig or a weave if they do you dirty.”
9. …or their eyebrows waxed.
“Getting anything waxed for that matter,” she said. “You realize that certain things you took as everyday are actually luxuries.”
10. Wearing their hair down.
“You have to wear your hair up constantly.”
11. Wearing heels.
“I haven’t worn heels in so long,” Remy said. “Those things are serious, they’re deadly. I’m still practicing in my house. The first day I walked around in heels I kept slippers in my bag. I kept asking, ‘Are we here? I don’t wanna walk any steps that I don’t have to.’ My friend who gave me my first pair of red-bottom heels told me the designer said he doesn’t make them for comfort, they’re for style. Really? Well, he got that part. They look awesome but they are deadly.”
12. Being within the reach of their friends and family.
“There’s no way for people that are outside to communicate with you directly,” she said. “Your mom, your spouse, your child? They can’t call you. They have to wait till you call them to tell you anything. When my dad died, they had to wait for me to call them to tell me that. It sucks because things happen that are not scheduled. If my son is going through something and he wants to speak to his mom, he has to call everybody who he knows that I might call and say, ‘Tell her to call me immediately.’ There were times that he needed me and I didn’t call till hours later, because I didn’t know that he needed to speak to me.”
13. And, ultimately, being able to share their feelings.
“I met people there that I would consider my friends,” Remy explained. “But in prison you’re very leery. It wasn’t until later on in my time there that I felt like, ‘Here’s someone that I can trust and I consider them as a friend and somebody that I believe is trustworthy enough to keep my secrets and my information sacred.’
You don’t wanna just talk to anybody. You have to be very secretive and stay to yourself to stay out of trouble. But that sucks. It’s not fun not being able to feel like you have somebody you can always count on. Even the most loneliest people that are hermits have some type of outlet that they tap into to relieve stress or have fun. But when you really feel like you’re by yourself, it’s hard to reach out to anyone. You’re forced to be like that. It’s part of your punishment — being by yourself, being away from everything that you love and you care about.”