The following is by John Catanzarite, from a letter to RM 05-18-15, after 13 years of solitary confinement.
At this time so many things in my life started to change—released from isolation, two transfers, adjusting to being around so many people, etc.—I was overwhelmed.
My release from isolation took some getting used to. For example, it took me several weeks to get used to my food being hot, and I was always the last person to finish (It was too hot for me, just right for everyone else). I was now allowed to have real clothes and shoes, music, a hot pot to cook and make hot coffee: real soap and toothpaste, and even a real toothbrush to brush with. The first time I bought a Speed Stick deodorant, the very moment it was in my hand, I couldn’t put it down, I couldn’t stop looking at it. I probably picked it up to look at it, to touch it physically, no less than four times a day for the first week I had it. It was real plastic—something I hadn’t seen in almost 14 years—and the design and colors completely captivated me.
Remember what I told you about the grass? How I brought some back to my cell, as though I’d never seen it before or as if I’d never see it again?
I became so overwhelmed by all these things, by all the people I was suddenly around, all of you who wrote, I lost track of my own writing.
It’s been just over a year since my release from isolation. I am now used to being around people, hot food, and coffee. And while everything I own in this world, my entire worldly possessions, can fit inside two cardboard boxes, compared to back then, I feel rich. Sure, there are a few more things I’d like to have, and in time I’ll get them. But when you come from where I’ve been, complete and lasting nothingness, two boxes of property is like owning the entire world.