The Night I Broke Back Into Prison
After serving thirteen years behind bars and struggling to rebuild his life, an ex-con finds solace in a surreptitious trip to the most unexpected place of all—his former cell.
Photos by Nick Brooks
Last night I broke into a prison and freed myself.
For some time, life had lost its luster. I was breathing, and doing the things I was supposed to be doing, sure, but it didn't feel like I was alive. I was going through the motions of life, but I was really walking around dead. Somewhere along the way I'd lost the capacity to cherish the moment, to stop in my tracks and gaze in wonder at something, to be lovable and, perhaps worst of all, to have hope for a better tomorrow. It was as if I lived in black and white, and everyone else lived in color.
It wasn't always this way.
Born in the Bronx, my youth was darkened by drugs and violence. When I was seven I came home from school and found my mother passed out on the living room floor, syringe sticking out of her arm. They saved her body but they couldn't save her life, and I went to live with my grandmother in Yonkers. Mother would stay with us whenever she wasn't in a mental hospital or rehab. She had wild mood swing…
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