Highway 99

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(written 9/16) I have been gearing up to head down to visit Sean this weekend. It is always stressful to get ready for visit, and I’m not exactly sure why. Even when I’m doing really good, the minute I start packing I feel this tense anxiety build within myself and I just can’t seem to escape it. This week has been especially challenging in that there is sickness at work, as in the minute I walked in I thought: “Oh NO! I do not want to catch what they have and be sick during visit!” Because I have been sick during a visit weekend and let me tell you, driving alone for 3 1/2 hours while feeling like you are surely about to die is not fun. Luckily for me I build defensive walls to protect myself from the illness in the form of tons of vitamins, healthy food, and lots of rest. I am still well, knock on wood!

It takes a lot of preparation ahead of time to make it all run smoothly, easily, and as low-cost for me as possible.  I keep my suitcase filled with the things I can have multiples of to make packing less of an ordeal. I pack most of my food ahead of time including breakfast staples, coffee, and snacks and drinks for the road to cut down on cost and in order to have much more healthy choices available.

I have the route all mapped out in my mind, I know every rest stop along the way to be able to stop and stretch my legs without getting too far off the highway and knowing the bathrooms are clean and safe. The first hour is always the best one of the entire journey, I am excited about our time together and being able to see everything because the sun is still up makes it a bit more interesting. But eventually the excitement wears off and since I have just worked all day long I begin to feel tired. Once the sun is gone it is a desperate race to the hotel, and I won’t arrive until at least 9:30 pm.

Spending a significant amount of time alone makes you learn a lot about yourself. You come face to face with who you really are. Something about traveling alone, relying only on myself (without a smart phone to give me turn-by-turn directions) learning to navigate eerily empty middle-of-nowhere farm roads at 7:45 in the morning with heavy fog while trying to chug down piping hot coffee sure has made me more confident! My perspective of the state has changed. My idea about what I am capable of has changed a lot.

But none of it would be possible without Sean’s mom, Debbie. Behind every visit and every solo trip, she is working behind the scenes to make it all possible for us. These visits are critical to our relationship, without them we would be solely relying on letters and phone calls. She makes those possible for us too. Wonder woman doesn’t even begin to describe the woman Sean gets to call mom.  Thank you, Debbie, for all you do.

About Sean & Emelia

In 2003 Sean O'Brien was wrongfully convicted in El Dorado County, CA and sentenced to Life Without Parole at the age of 16. We have been friends since grade school and are now married. Sean and I move forward together with the knowledge of his innocence, our faith in God, and hope that he will rightfully regain his freedom. Until then we embrace our journey wherever it may take us, cherishing each moment we have together and staying true to ourselves. This blog is about the past we share, our fight for freedom, life as it exists for us, and our path toward the future, whatever that may hold. Thank you for allowing us to be heard. God bless.
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