Scene #11: “What Those Relationships Were to Me” written by Brian Garcia

WHILE YOU WERE AWAY – A play by the Fall 2015 Documentary Theatre Class (RCHUM 334)

Scene #11: “What Those Relationships Were to Me” written by Brian Garcia

Once they were leaving the halfway house that was a huge thing: Where are they going to go?
Where are they going to live? They could only be released like to certain people. So maybe they put
down an aunt or uncle to live with, that’s who they have to go to. So part of it was just kind of like
figuring out, navigating with them: who their family was, where they even were, and just like talking
about ways in which they could do that. I mean, the thing that was really sad was like some of the
guys were in prison 20-25 years and had young kids that were now adults and – that would be some
of their goals. Like, “I have this son that I want to reconnect with but I don’t know how” or, repeat
offenders went in, came out and now they now have kids in the system. Yeah, it’s [inhale] it’s really
weird- not weird [pause]. It’s just a different culture.
Even this institution is predominantly white and I feel like most people don’t know someone who’s in
prison or even their friends haven’t known someone. Where as in this culture, in DC where I was, it
was just like: “Yeah, I was there and so and so was there,” and it was just dropped as if it was not a
big thing.
To have this community that I came home to and this connection and these bonds and like to then
go and like hear people the next day, like: “I didn’t sleep because all I heard was gunshots over the
night and like was just terrified,” and like that’s their environment and I was able to at least step out
of that. I mean – it’s hard to like hear stories of [pause] and its not even stories its realities. It’s
realities that people are living every single day.
I was this 22 year old fresh out of undergrad kid who was essentially serving as a life coach for
these 65 year old people which doesn’t make any sense. And that’s the thing that’s interesting. And
that’s why generalizations are dumb because yeah some people were very much like, “You’re young
and you don’t understand,” and I’m like, “yeah, that’s right!” And other people looked at me as if I
was this all-knowing person and then I would have to be like, “I don’t really know”. It was definitely,
like, it was definitely a huge piece of it because it’s like I don’t know I never saw the participants as:
this is homeless person or this is a substance abuser or this is a person who’s making decisions that
aren’t very positive for them. It was always like: this woman who was really wanting to be a
substitute teacher or this guy who really wants to reconnect with his son. That’s what those
relationships were for me.