Made of Broken Things
Cantrell was an eleven year old when she had decided to go to Waters Bible College. The thing is, by the time she got to eighteen she didn’t want to go any longer. Now she was a freshly twenty-one year old coed walking through the halls of a science building because she couldn’t break her parents hearts, dashing their dreams of having a daughter who was a Waters alum. They had graduated from Waters years before, in fact as you might have guessed it, they met in one of the cafeterias. Waters Bible College, handing out M.R.S. Degrees since 1951, her dad used to say. Sexist asshole. He loved her mom, but he loved the idea of her nineteen year old self a whole lot more. In fact, Cantrell wasn’t even sure they liked each other anymore. It wasn’t a divorce-level disdain, but it was an apathetic-not-sure-what-to-do-with-the-remainder-of-my-life-without-you-because-we-are-this-far-in disdain. They may not have been excited about one another any longer, but they were so excited about Cantrell and Waters… how great would it be when she earned a husband, I mean a degree. She had to go. So she did, but she wound’t let it change her.
That was three years ago.
Today, her future was inching closer by the moment. No time to think about how she got here, just keep moving forward and get out of this dreadful decision. She walked past Professor Landon’s class on Social Science Ethics and proceeded to the stairwell in the back corner of the building cascading to the main floor as if she was a pre-teen in a Keds commercial. It wasn’t wasted on Cantrell that the majority of her life was lived for the appeasement of other people. Many people who got to know her believed she was stuck in a cycle of people pleasing and performance anxiety which combined drove her to academic and conservative cultural success at Waters as well as back home, but that wasn’t it. She was fully aware of her circumstances and situation. Cantrell was keenly self-aware and while she regularly preformed for the benefit of others — specifically her parents and significant others — she recognized it and did so by choice. She was an inverse politician, controlling herself for the perception of others as opposed to controlling public perception for personal benefit. Maybe this was how she could hide in plain sight.
Cantrell thought about her parents and reflected upon her future as she exited the academic building and slipped between the walls of neighboring buildings crouching next to industrial central air units. This was her secret spot. Her special space. A place she could be alone. An environmental escape. In her mind she called it Privilege Alley, which she thought was rather clever as most alleys are found in poor metropolitan contexts, but this one was literally in the shadows of wealthy academia. Clever, maybe… but she wouldn’t test it out to be sure. She couldn’t risk her secret spot becoming a social setting.
White wealth will gentrify just about anything. Her heart raced and anxiety ran rampant as her backpack slid down the brick until she bounced off the concrete cracking the glass of her iPhone that was in her rear jean pocket. This didn’t escalate her anxiety, she couldn’t care less about her phone — which was odd for a woman her age. She was far more interested in the tangible and palpable realities of life. And she wasn’t anxious about skipping, even though she walked right by her professor on her way to the stairwell; no, she was pretty sure the ethics professor Landon had lustful intentions for her brarely legal youth and would act contrary to his “belief” system if she looked made eye contact and bit her pouty lower lip. But those past and future things, those brought anxiety. Her parents and her adulthood. She could handle Landon, Cantrell thought biting her lower lip and inhaling deeply. Even though the HVAC unit’s weren’t running there shouldn’t be anyone close enough to smell the sweet smoke from what little of a joint she had left. She could handle Landon, she chuckled thinking about it. Wouldn’t he like that.
But her parents. What would she do? What could she do?
And her future? Her life? She’s nearly completed every task and goal that was set before her as a child. What did she want? It certainly wasn’t an M.R.S. Degree, and while she hadn’t been conformed by this religious academic institution, she certainly hadn’t found herself either. What to do, what to do?
Inhale deeply. Hold. Exhale.
Inhale deeply. Hold. Exhale.