The Prison called Gehring Hall
Its part of Depaul now. The Theatre Annex. This made me me laugh. Prior to be a building for a theatre department, it was a maternity home. Prior to that, it was a convent. Something amusing in that to me. Something ironic.
Today they act in that building. We acted in that building in 1986 only we were unwed moms.We were acting okay. We were acting strong. We were acting like we could handle losing our children. We were pretending that our pain did not matter and that we did not matter to the lives of our children. We were acting good and proper and respectful. We had all been so “bad” by gettrnig pregnant. Act good now. Behave now. Maybe we helped make that building the Theatre Annex. For sure, the building has a lot of negative energy and emotions frozen in the floors and walls. Surely, you can draw from that when you are acting.
It was a dreary building. Inside and out. Sterile. I suppose that is the former convent quality. My room was small. They all were. A single bed, a closet, a desk, a basin and mirror. Vinyl flooring. I think it was green. It was so dreary. So depressing. I used to leave the window open. January in Chicago and the window was wide open. The girls would tease me that the could walk by my door and feel the arctic wind blow from beneath it. Not sure if the room was hot. I do remember the cold kept me awake, feeling alive. I felt that if I got too warm, if I slept too much, I might not wake up.
I hated the place. I really did. It was like prison. Oh, my girls tried their best to help. We all did. Carole, Cori, Megan, Kathleen. They all tried so hard. Put on a happy face. Forget the fact that you family, friends, the father of your child has discarded you.
I think I recall being told I was quiet and withdrawn. Carole would remember better than me. She took me under her wing. I dont know what she would remember today. What she would say. I do remember her taking me downtown for the first time and me being amazed at the skyscrapers. Looking up in wonder. Her laughing at me. Telling me I looked like a tourist. I also asked her why she was being so nice to me. She still remembers that and finds it amusing. But I meant it. No one was nice to me. Like ever. Only my daughters father and well, look where that got me? I dont remember what she said.
She made those days bearable for me. A few years older than me, wiser. A cross between a mother, sister, friend. Not sure I could have survived the time in the prison home without her.
That building has to have bad energy. Bad Karma. Kinda like the house built on the burial ground in Poltergiest. Too many women and children were separated in that house. Too many mamas cried to themselves, to the children in their wombs. I am sure the walls weep with condensation. Tears of the mothers. Tears of the children.
I stood across the street and just stared. Flashbacks of groups of pregnant women coming and going. House mothers. Megan coming back after the delivery with a cane. Her hip separated during delivery. Trudy with Jim. A lucky one that got to leave and get married. I saw them all.
Ghosts of days gone by.