#254 The Study Carrel

By Mike Johnson

My best friend in junior high was a study carrel.

A private, quiet sanctuary, its side panels hugged my arrival no matter what my mood.

I can only take crowds for so long.

Junior high is built for crowds. Thirty in a class. Alphabetical order. Which is just a polite way to reduce individuals to check-marks on some attendance sheet.

The bell rings & youíre washed through halls by a wave of hormonal humanity. Until you come ashore in Biology. Or Social Studies. Or Composition 101.

Another 45 minutes locked in with the masses. Under the thumb of conformity.

But open period was mine. Cocooned in that study carrel, I was in control. I could read anything. Write anything. Daydream anything.

I was able to be ME, in charge of ME, away from THEM.

My carrel wasnít as fancy as this one pictured. But my mind made it so.

Unlike drab captivity, freedom paints with affluent textures and colors.

Even today, I wrap myself in seclusion. A fortress of solitude home. A cave-like desk area. Pre-dawn writing in a dark, quiet house.

Iíve built my life so I never have to leave that study carrel.

Because the outside world still feels like junior high.

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