Jennifer Gates was born and raised in Australia by migrant English parents, who, despite being well-off, had then spent most days stating how much better things were back 'home'. Life at home for this only child proved unbearable with a mother who long ago stopped caring about everything except her pills and a conservative and religious father who hypocritically wanted to care too much about Jenny.
At an early age, Jenny realised her mother wasn't quite 'there' mentally and being around her father was dangerous. Really smart and with a strong sense of tactical self-preservation, she learned to deal with many situations alone. By the age of sixteen, and lacking a strategic direction for her life, she was running and staying away - living by her own emerging code of self-preservation and personal justice.
Her life changed when she hung out with what could be described as a group of radical environmentalists. They opened her eyes to their causes. The group took direct action, chaining themselves to traffic barriers, petrol pumps, and trains filled with coal. By age twenty-one, Jenny had been arrested and warned more than once. With a right-leaning government in control, the attitude in the courts was changing, and Jenny was finally convicted.
It took her father's influence, a well-paid lawyer, and an appeal to get Jenny out of time in jail. With the sentence overturned, Jenny was pressured to return home, go to university, and just become respectable. She did apply, and again her father exerted his influence to back her application. What caught him out was when she proudly announced she'd be studying environmental science and communications. Her aspiration was to become a spokesperson and raise the political profile of environmental issues. Her father's icy response told him she'd hit home.
It was still a hard adjustment for Jenny, and she struggled with the necessary discipline to attend lectures and do the coursework. She got through the year with enough credits to keep going. Instead, she took the choice of a gap year and travelled through the US and Europe instead. The time and space away revealed to her that the degree was the right approach to putting her in a position to influence opinion and policy makers. But she also needed to get away from the strife and conflict at home.
A less than rigorous search had suggested that Columtreal University in steamy Louisiana would be a workable choice. She had loved the books of Anne Rice and the Creole histories of Fatima Shaik. Her visit to New Orleans had been amazing and she wanted to be as close to that as she could. On her return home she caught her mother in one of her states, had her sign off on the tuition and a bit of money for Jenny to get settled. It would not cover all her needs, but it would be enough to get started.
The appeal by her father's lawyers had cleared the conviction and so getting into the States wasn't the issue it could have been. She was starting off again, as a freshman, but now felt confident that she’d have the maturity to stick with it.
She wondered if their bbq was as good as the stuff back home. Time to find out as she unpacked in her new dorm room.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.