Even with being free for the past 7 months, there was still an element of surprise and excitement when I woke up this morning and did a full-body stretch in a real bed. I'm the first to admit that I've come a long way real fast in the past 7 months---car, job, new wardrobe, money in the bank, reunions with family and friends, exploring the city, etc---but freedom and the endless privileges and opportunities that come with being free never get old. I hit my knees every morning, like I did this morning, and thank God (profusely) for my freedom and give the Great I AM the first fruits of my day.
I opened up the blinds and there were no bars or fences blocking my view. No more instant coffee for me. I was able to make the choice between drinking Old San Antonio coffee from my Keurig or fresh gourmet French coffee from my Bodum French Press. I chose the French Press coffee. I was able to privately do my daily devotional reading, meditation and quote reading without the eavesdropping of a cellie and not one "excuse me" that I heard what seemed like a hundred times in my tiny 6' by 11' cell whenever one of my cellies needed to get to the other side of the cell. I don't miss having dry pancakes 4 or 5 times a week at 3:00 am in the morning with a vigorously regulated, 2 ounce leveled spoon of syrup. I'm now able to open my uncle's refrigerator and chose what i want to make. Waffles, eggs, toast, hash browns, cereal, fresh fruit. I make the choice. Every morning i eat a banana and an apple and an orange before the day is over with. There's not 100-plus guys in my room voting (and arguing) on what to watch, just me. What do I want to do with my day? Meet with a friend or family member. Hit a new restaurant. Go shopping. Buy some new Jordans to add to my collection. Workout. Go jogging in a park. Catch up on movies and Power shows on-demand. Museum. Movie. Type a blog. The choice is mine to make. I can open my front door and do what I want to do.
When I compare my 23 years of wrongful incarceration to the considerably shorter 7 months I've been free, it's no surprise to me that I experience several I-can't-believe-I'm free moments throughout the day. You know when freedom really hits me? When I make my daily commute to work on the freeway and drive intimately close to the big, bold, and beautiful Houston downtown skyline of towers. Sometimes when I'm driving and see the downtown skyline it brings tears in my eyes because it makes me realize how far I've come from the tiny cell I lived in with a bland, boring view of a different kind of concrete and metal scenery, the institutional setting of prison life.
But you know what? No matter how many family and friends i reunite with, how much money I make, how much delicious food I eat in all the restaurants I go to, no matter how much fun I have and how much I enjoy the people, places, and things in freedom, there is nothing good enough that I've experienced in my new found freedom that will make me forget my 23 years of wrongful imprisonment and the pain that I still feel. Some advise me to forget about my past and focus on my future as a free man, but I just can't. Yes, I'm more than happy to be free and I will focus on my future and make the most of my freedom, but I have to keep doing what I can to fight to prove my innocence and to ultimately be exonerated. We all have different purposes in life, and my purpose is to fight until I'm exonerated and to use by story to give back for the good.
Another day of freedom feels awesome to me, heavenly. However, I believe God restored my freedom to put me in a better position to prove my innocence and win my exoneration. I will take it day by day. I will not try to rush the process. I will thoroughly enjoy all of the little luxuries of freedom. I will smile and laugh with the unspeakable joy that resides in me. I will keep making daily choices that enhance my quality of life. I will eat, drink, and be merry. But I won't forget the gross injustice that the "system" put me through and i will keep fighting until I obtain the justice of my case being overturned, my name being cleared, and me being fully exonerated.