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November 23, 2009

Detention Camps

It is a sunny day. I am in line with a hundred or so people, were moving through gated corridors. Moving up to a doorway where someone takes our belongings and enter the facility. Parents and loved ones stand outside the gates weeping, crying and yelling things like, “What did she do!? WHy?! No!?” I am being sent into this camp with people aged 18-30. My offense; small, thumb-sized portion of marijuana found in my car, a year ago. The letter was sent to my apartment, and I appeared to court to fight the sentencing, but according to the new laws, anyone one expected to commit further crimes must be sent to this detention camp.

The sense is that I was already in this camp, though and the sense was also that the marijuana was not the reason I was put there. On my way in, I am slightly calm, and I realize that I have been here before, someone next to me, a girl in her late teens, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt; she doesn ‘t care that she’s going into a detention camp, and she looks at me as if she knows me. “She says, you’ve been here before, I remember you.” It is then that I realize that I had spent at least 3 years in here, got out, went to college for a while, and here I am now, getting herded back in. I start to weep. I start sobbing very badly, realizing that I had spent three years in this camp, but the only thing I remember is the day I went in. This terrifies me. The sobbing is waking me in and out of the dream but I fall back asleep just in time to enter the camp.

The camp is really like a project, with several amenities you would not receive at another detention camp. The feeling is, the people are being kept here in order to keep them removed from society. We, in some way, are dangers to the state, and not so much to society. There are people I know here, people I grew up with, harmless idiots, who may have opened the wrong book or listened to the Alex Jones show too long; the government caught up with them, brought up a past infliction of the law, and boom, sentenced to the detention camp for a few years.

This is my second time in. I first take the elevator up to my room, which is a shared room. I walk in, there are beds on either side of the wall, small night stands, and a table at the foot of each bed. On the night stands are small jukebox/music players with a small list of songs shining from an LCD display. The songs had been preselected from our memory banks, or somehow, the state knew what music we liked and programmed a few songs into these players. The floors, ceilings and walls were wooden, and everything had a reddish tint to it. In the center of the 20th floor, which is where I was located, there was a large cafe/diner where people sat and smoked. Even on the first day of their internment, people were happy to see each other, sitting in the diner, smoking. I walked up to a skinny mexican kid behind the bar, and asked him for a book of matches. He gave me some and I walked back to my room and sat on my bed. I tried to remember the three years I was here, but I couldn’t remember any of it. Again, all I could remember was the entering, the fingerprints, the stripping, the yelling, the screaming, the mothers crying. I remember my mother standing outside the fence, not crying or screaming, but just wondering. I remember getting the letter and taking it to my mother’s house, and the look on her face.

My roommate, is Jaime. He got himself in, somehow. He would not let me keep sitting on the bed, weeping, wondering what to do now. He was convinced that there was a way out, and he snuck himself in here to help find a way for all these innocent people. It was a bit relieving to see him, but already I could tell that whatever poison they used to make us forget everything, was starting to work on him, because he increasingly wanted to talk about how pretty and interesting some of the women were. His rebellious sense was wearing off, just in that first few minutes. I sat back on the bed, lit a cigarette.

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