Friday, September 24, 2010

small world

i live in a major city. there are millions of people in the national capital area. i can walk the streets here, pass hundreds of people while winding my way through the metro system, and never see anyone familiar. it's an interesting feeling; a lot of times, it lets me be totally alone with my thoughts, anonymous and cloistered while in the midst of teeming life. it's, honestly, one of my favorite things about living here at this phase of my life.

but sometimes, way more than you'd ever expect, this is the smallest town ever. tonight, i discovered that a professor of mine grew up in my home state, and his niece and nephew are friends with a girl who was in the mock-congress program in which i met the man. the professor was familiar with all of my K-12 schools, knew people i knew. this sort of thing isn't supposed to happen in a place like this, and yet, it does. this isn't the first time, either; a woman in my program grew up with the woman who married my high-school boyfriend. that's crazy.

i guess, in a way, there's something warm and comfortable in these small moments. it reminds me that there's connection in this world. and really, i'm going to (god willing and the creek don't rise) be a real-life lawyer in a little less than a month; if there's a profession on this earth that depends more on making connections, short of high-pressure sales, i don't know of it. but at the same time, it's just ever so slightly, well, creepy. how am i supposed to be autonomous when these threads to the past keep popping up everywhere? maybe it's nothing. maybe i'm just paranoid. maybe i'm not treating these little coincidences as the fun things to laugh over that i should.

but if my world is really that small, how the hell can i grow?

Thursday, September 23, 2010


i'm a veteran at this whole law-school thing. hell, i have a law degree and everything. you'd think that one more year of this would be painless and smooth. i mean, i'm in my element; i am studying my favorite subject matter, the one to which i am dedicating my professional life. i am at a world-class school, and i have every opportunity to be everything i want to be. but something's been just a little... off about this whole experience. we're four weeks in, and inside my program, i feel totally at ease and comfortable. tonight, it finally hit me exactly what the problem is in my new home.

it's that it's not really a "home." everyone's perfectly nice in the general population; no one's been outwardly cruel or horrible to me. but these kids are not interested in being a community. this is one of those schools where every person there, especially in the non-LL.M. crowd, is 100% out for himself or herself, and frankly, you're kind of in their way. this is such a misguided approach to law school, to the practice, and to life in general. good lord. i mean, it's not surprising, i guess. it's a whole school full of hardcore overachievers, people who have reached for the best all their lives. why stop now? it's gotten them everything they've ever wanted.

except it doesn't have to be that way. look, i'm a recovering overachiever myself. and i've spent a lot of time lamenting the time in my life when i settled. but there's a definite - and vitally important - difference between striving healthily for the best you can get and what these kids are doing. devoting yourself to the cold, ruthless pursuit of the next brass ring on your list, damn the torpedoes, is by far not the only way to get what you want. take it from me; above average effort nets you almost as much as bare-knuckles overwork, and it makes you a LOT happier.

so i look around at the overcompetitive, hyper-"friendly" gunner kids at my school with a combination of confusion and pity. it makes me sad for them, but it makes me feel that much better about my strategy for life. i may not be the valedictorian of my class. but i'll give this program my best. that means my best in academics, in culture, and in the bare recognition that i'm not the only person on the planet, in the city, in the school or in the hall. we all earned our way here. why not be friends?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


it's starting to get a little cold around the edges here in our nation's capital. a couple of nights this weekend saw the temperature sneaking below 50 degrees. i am a cold-blooded little blogger, apparently, because i FREEZE in weather like this. the man noticed this, and as i shivered next to him, he got up, went to his closet, and brought me back a big gray sweatshirt. i slipped it on and curled up in his arms, dozing off as he kissed my temple and stroked my hair.

this was a peaceful night. there weren't very many of those this weekend. i feel myself, as this process evolves, slowly starting to grow uneasy. scratch that; i'm scared out of my damn mind. hey, kid, you're all alone, and there's no stability left in your life, the voice in the back of my head tells me. get ready for a long haul. the man has known me since we were snotty little punk teenagers together. he knows that these sorts of swings will happen from time to time. but this feeling is a gut shot. i spent a lot of time being vaguely terrified, even as he did his best to show me how wrong the voice is.

so he held me. he talked me down. and it was an interesting kind of talking down, one that gave me pause. i'm accustomed to being showered with emotion, a constant source of... well, maybe not platitudes, but statements of unconditional positivity. the man doesn't traffic in that sort of display. i twisted his arm for some kind of verbal reassurance to silence the chattering critic in my head. instead, he calmly and rationally told me... the truth. it wasn't the blithe pablum of instant gratification i thought i wanted. but weirdly enough, it was perfect.

two things dawned on me at that moment. first, this relationship is built on something more than just a wildly careening net of emotion. the man expects me to stand on my own. he'll help me, he'll soothe me, but he won't carry me. we both have to be adults here. i said, almost to myself, "i miss being the center of someone's universe." he kissed me and said, "no. you don't. you're going to be what you want to be, and that's what matters. if i treated you like that, you'd get tired of it, just like you did before." aha. the light goes on.

but the other thing i realized is that the words the man says are secondary. the way he comforts me, the way he loves me, isn't with a string of sayings, cliches, etc. he tells me everything he needs to say with his gestures, his kiss, and most importantly, his presence. there's more love in that gray sweatshirt than there could ever be in a lifetime's worth of empty words. anyone can talk. he acts. and he silently wraps me in his love. i never knew that's what i needed, but i never, ever want to be without it.