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A typewriter with a partially written letter.
Photo illustration by Teresa Tauchi. Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash.

Dear Clay,

I am sure when you read this one day, you will remember exactly when and where I wrote this letter — sitting on the cold, concrete floor of our two-man cell, crouched over our old metal bunk on the level four yard at Centinela State Prison. 

But do you know why I am writing you this letter? I want to make you a promise: I will continue to try my very best every single day for the rest of our life. I will man up and take responsibility for my thoughts, words and actions, and when I am wrong I will be quick to admit my faults. 

I will be fearless in the face of daily challenges, and when a mountain presents itself before us I will remember always that book by Ryan Holiday, “The Obstacle Is the Way.” 

Everything I decide to devote my time and attention to will recieve my very best, so I can never look back with regret about things I could have done. 

I will be quick to forgive when necessary, but will no longer put up with liars, cheaters or thiefs. I believe we are better than that and are worth so much more. 

I will use what I know for the good of mankind and will strive to do my part to bring unity to the forefront of humanity. 

I will continue to make amends to society and will send letters to all whom I have harmed. 

I will stay on top of my workouts, studying, health and nutrition, sacrificing what I can, when I can, where I can. I will continue to be a source of inspiration, motivation and upliftment to all who come into contact with me. 

I will continue to walk with faith, not by sight. I will remain drug and alcohol free, and the only reservations I’ll keep for two will be for me + God = the Dream Team. 

I will write some of the best damn songs, articles and blogs mankind has ever read. Each day is a new day and I will maintain my spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health. 

Clay, I will be with you when you are alone, from your darkest hours to your brightest days, you will always be able to count on me. 

And do you want to know why? Because I love you stud, with all that I am, and everything I’ve got. I know what it is going to take to accomplish our dreams, and this letter of commitment is my intention for you, for us and for the beautiful days that lie ahead. 

Though you may look around and feel alone, like the whole world has moved on — out of sight, out of mind — you are never truly alone.

I need you to know that no matter how hard life gets, we will always put our best foot forward. One day when you read this, I want you to be proud of me. I want you to remember the tears streaming down my face as I spilled my soul into this journal. 

Prior to this day, prior to Sept. 27, 2020, I let us down. Those days are gone, never to return. We have crawled through the trenches and discovered our true self: victory through defeat, the story of our life. 

We have done it all, and here I sit on the floor of my cell, giving you my promise for our beautiful future. I will give you my all each and every day. I will not let you down. I love you Clay, I hope I made you proud!

Sincerely written and deeply prayed over,


Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

C.R. Addleman is a writer incarcerated at Centinela State Prison in California.