My grandfather told me to marry for money. My mother told me to marry a God-fearing man. My father told me to marry a man who wasn’t an idiot and my grandmother told me to marry a man who wouldn’t cheat. I’d accomplished great things in my career as a celebrity makeup artist working on Hollywood sets. I teach makeup techniques in both live settings and via a successful Youtube channel. But even with all my success and seemingly glorious life, I ended up pregnant and in love with a man who is currently serving time in jail.
When we first met, I gave him the name “Ten In The Penn” because he immediately admitted he was fresh out of prison after doing a 10 years bid. His honesty was the first thing that attracted me to him. He had no money and his goals were simple — he just wanted to work a steady job and reconnect with the son that he’d lost touch with due to his incarceration. I was new to the New York area and he was charming, muscular and had a undeniable happiness about nothing and everything.
“Ten In The Pen” and I texted for weeks after our initial interaction. I was taken by his intelligence, his sunny disposition coupled with his truthful approach to life was all it took to make me fall in love with who he was rather than what he had or didn’t have. It wasn’t long after we met he told me the story of his parentless childhood. He was left in the care of a family friend who tried her best but had her own children to raise, which often times meant his street life went unnoticed. Those same streets raised him.
His story reads very much like that of many incarcerated men and woman who’ve committed crimes because of lack of resources. When your mother cannot afford a babysitter, you end up caring for yourself. When she can’t put food on the table, you end up feeding yourself. His biological mother never once visited him during his 10 year prison bid. In fact, nobody really did. By the time he and I met, abandonment issues ran deep within him and his daily movements. However, I was captivated by his joy. He was happy to be alive and to be free. He was happy that I loved him and I was happy that he loved me.
I found out I was pregnant in December of 2018. Life seemed to have hit a sweet spot for us. I would watch him asleep in my bed and be thankful that I could be a safe space for him. He made me feel wanted and reassured my beauty and talent. He encouraged me to get back into the beauty space. What little he made from his landscaping job, he gave to me without hesitation and he never missed a doctor’s appointment for our baby. He never had a family so he trusted my guidance and let me lead.
Not long after we met, he told me he wanted a daughter who he would name “Myair” (pronounced “my-air”). He came up with her name in jail. He yearned for unconditional love. His little girl and her big brother would be his only reasons for breathing motivation to imagine anew future.
Myair. I liked the name.
We found out we were pregnant with a little girl. He was over the moon. But our joy was short-lived. I was well into the swing of my third month of pregnancy when one evening, he called me sounding very rushed. “Baby, I gotta go outta town really quick and I have to turn off my phone. If my parole officer comes to the house, don’t answer.” This was the last day that I would see him outside of prison walls.
I was devastated. He had made a desperate decision before we met, that came back to haunt us. Desperation leads to desperate choices and desperate choices are never anything that we can be proud of. A man fresh out of prison has nothing. A man with very little family to help him has even less than nothing. Nothing but choices. I don’t regret the choice I made to make him my friend and then my lover. I don’t regret that Myair will be here any day now. More often than not I’m thankful to have found him and be able to love him then and now because it was the realest thing I’d experienced in a long time. I’ve never met a man more deserving of love.
My child is not fatherless. She very much has a Daddy who dreamed of her before we ever met and wants to be in her life. The first time I visited the detention center where he’s being held, I cried and cried. There were at least 60 other people in the room in rows of visitors side by side and prisoners side by side. I cried like no one was watching because frankly, they weren’t. They too were fixated on the face of the loved one sitting right in front of them, who could not come home with them. Not even on that day or the many days after when I’d go to visit him would I regret that I loved him. If you could ask him however, he’d tell you that he had so many regrets. He’d tell you that he feels like a fool. He’d tell you that he can not eat because of the shame that eats away at him.
I want Myair to grow up understanding that there are consequences to everything we do both good and bad. I want her to be compassionate and kind to those who come from walks of life that she has not traveled. I want her to make it easy on herself but to also understand that life and love is not easy at all. Most-importantly I want her to always make the best of every pitfall and mountain top. God willing, through all of this her father and I will show her better than we can tell her.
It’s almost been a year since Myair’s father went in to serve his bid. He is still awaiting his sentencing. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t express to me the humiliation he feels. His crime was committed weeks before we met. It was a desperate and stupid. He fresh out of prison and had an immense amount of odds stacked against him.
Myair was born in August. She’s 5 months old now and she’s a dream come true for both of us. No matter the outcome, I believe in his redemption. This is why few weeks pass without Myair and I going to see him. Life is now nothing without her and she’s the only thing that keeps him going.