Prison relationships, in particular, “tend to be built mostly on fantasy of the other,” Harley Conner assures me.Conner is a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at George Washington University who has worked as a probation counselor to jailed youth and has conducted clinical work in forensic and correctional settings for about three years.I stayed up late writing or reading or just thinking, and slept in until I felt like getting up.I dyed my hair green and I cursed in front of children and I showed up late for work at Subway.But in the spring of 2006, Justin came back into my life with a phone call from my mother.This time, he’d really screwed up, my mom told me; he’d been arrested as an accomplice in a double murder.For the first time, I allowed myself to admit I had no idea what I was doing.
How much can you ever really know about another person, anyway?
Every other week, we greeted each other shyly between panes of smudged glass.
Between my family problems and my painful dating history, I wasn’t ready for a real relationship.
But as his school detentions led to expulsions and, eventually, arrests for possession of weed and then burglaries, we fell out of touch.
I was ambitious, and my sights were set on anywhere but Delaware. Maybe when got his act together, I told myself, we could finally have a real relationship.
In the months before the trial, Justin had a lot of time to think. We wrote about books and family and mutual friends.