It was ironic now that I think about it. It was another Saturday in Albion, and we were returning from sorority events and recovering from rough mornings – I was nesting in a soft wine-stained blanket eating rice cakes. All of us sitting around in boxers, tanktops, and last night’s dresses, our expertly applied eyemake-up smudged and our hair flattened or tangled as the noontime sun shone through the windows. We were sharing stories from the evening before and laughing while we should have been writing papers or attending some sort of programing and All Systems (were) Normal like it says on the temperature control system everyday. And We were watching a movie about prison.
Years ago I saw the Shawshank Redemption, but at the time I don’t think it meant much to me. But seeing it here – looking around this big house, our own private island with crown-molding abounding and the windows divided into small panes by wooden pieces casting shadows that looked like bars on the floral carpet – it hit a little closer to home. There are a lot of things we’ve built here. No incredible libraries, but chapters and stories and realities instead.
Some people get out and can’t handle it. I saw one today. Though locked in by cornfields and abounding midwestern averageness, these same walls that confine also protect, and as we seniors learn daily, there isn’t anything that’s actually beyond our control here. When some are freed, paroled into the larger world, they loose their footing and choke on the ropes they’ve tied around their own necks.
But others of us have been picking since the first day we arrived. With tiny chisels we have pick, pick, scraped away at the walls every night, covering our progress with pretty faces and elected offices. And now it’s time to crawl. Crawl through 500yards – 15 days – of dust and dirt and shit and red tape.
When the movie finished, we went outside because UVrays are all that’s left for us around here. The edges of the skies started to gray and scribbles of light shot from one end of the house-studded horizon to the other. We watched the storm come in, and I thought about a line I’d scribbled down during the movie.
“I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice.”
This ones for you, bright-feathered birds.