Dec 07, 2023, 06:24AM

Becca, Before Leaving Campus

It's time to convince Grandpa Jules to accept help.

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Becca rubbed the crust from the corners of her eyes. She heard Marisol moving around in the bathroom of their shared dorm room. Becca had nearly pulled an all-nighter, finishing her film studies paper and shutting down her laptop around four. She’d written the essay about the renegades Thelma and Louise. When she and Neve were both teens, Reva had spent an August showing them films from her own female empowerment film festival.

Becca’s thesis focused on female liberation and touched on the broader third wave of the feminist movement. She’d read a dozen interviews with Geena Davis and tracked down an episode of Inside the Actor’s Studio. Becca appreciated Geena delving into her difficult high school social experience as it mirrored her own. Being tall and gangly made it impossible to pass by unnoticed, like a raven among sparrows. Adolescence wasn’t kind to anyone, but tall girls who defied convention seemed to have it especially bad. You were supposed to try out for cheerleading, not lead the gay-straight-alliance.

Marisol came in and woke Becca by tickling her feet under the covers. Ten minutes later, they were walking to the campus center. It was late-morning on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. Campus was eerily quiet. Only the international students and the grad students were around.

Marisol was about to drive south to Chula Vista, a suburb of San Diego. Becca was going for a run, then planned to drive north to pick her mom up. Becca had invited Marisol to join them, but Marisol’s family wouldn’t have been okay with that. They didn’t even know she was into girls.

They stood in line behind two bearded grad students. Becca overheard something about thermodynamics. When it was her turn at the counter, Becca ordered a turkey, cheddar and egg-white breakfast sandwich from the woman working the grill, and then made herself a smoothie at the blender station. Marisol mixed some oatmeal into the milk she’d just warmed, and added some raisins. The place was nearly empty. They found a table overlooking the courtyard.

“How’d the paper turn out?” Marisol asked, then sipped her tea.

“No idea… but it’s done and I think I survived,” Becca replied. “Did you know Geena Davis was married to Jeff Goldblum?”

“What? The Jurassic Park guy? Crazy. He’s bizarre.” Marisol replied.

“Only lasted a few years. They’re both supposedly geniuses.”

“Their kids would’ve been really tall,” Marisol added.

“How’d your Econ test go yesterday?” Becca asked.

“I’ll be happy if I passed,” Marisol frowned. “Just need to be done with it! Who gives a micro shit about macro Economics?”

They ate their food and stared sleepily at each other. Then they went back to their empty dorm, lit a joint, and sat out on their balcony. The campus was beautiful. Whenever people complained about college being a bubble, away from the real world, Becca thought, “No shit, it’s a bubble. Aren’t most adults just envious they can’t fully live in their own bubbles? At least those that have to commute, and work with people they don’t like, and seem to live for the weekends? Isn’t that what technology was doing to all of us now anyway, regardless of where we actually lived?”

The two 20-year-old women then made love. Becca preferred midday sex with Marisol. After about 11 p.m., she wanted to flop down on the bed and pass out.

After they showered, Becca watched Marisol drive off in the old Camaro her dad fixed up. Becca sat down on her large floor cushion and tried to meditate. The THC and orgasm had her floating.

Her thoughts meandered to the upcoming family visit. Her grandpa was losing his memory, but was as kind and gentle as ever. He needed more friends and definitely could use some help at home. Becca would talk with her mom, and they’d figure out how to get him to accept his mental reality. She worried more about her mom, who she knew was lonely without her. Then she thought of Neve, who was bringing along this new guy James. From his Instagram, he seemed like one of the micro-dosing believers. Neve didn’t reply when Becca had asked about his job. Neve’s dachshund was demented, which was why she named him Travis Bickle. What if they’d micro-dosed the dog? Neve seemed to be doing better these days. Maybe the whole legal studies thing was helping her focus.

After 15 minutes, Becca gave up trying to meditate and switched to the gratitude journal. She’d been keeping it off and on for almost three years. It helped her train her mind to move beyond the anxiety.

With her black pen in hand, she sat back on her bed and wrote:

“I’m grateful for Grandpa Jules and his open heart. I’m grateful he’s still alive and remembers our names. I’m grateful for Mom, even when she worries too much. I know how hard she worked to hold things together for us after the divorce. I’m grateful she now has more time for herself and might find someone new to share her life with. I’m grateful for Neve, despite her wandering ways. I’m grateful for Marisol and her love and attention, despite her melodrama and ADD. I’m grateful for me. For how hard I’m working in my classes. For the professors who are guiding the research. For the work that will help teenagers in the future. For making sure I notice that I exist, and taking care of myself.”
Becca closed the journal. She was tired. She checked the time. Two p.m.

Forget the run. She decided to nap before heading north to pick her mom up. 


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