Saturday, May 16, 2009
Today the saga of law school ended, at least institutionally. The class of 2009 graduated, and I was one of them. I did not graduate with honors, which means I was not in the top half of my class, but I think I'm not at the bottom, so that's something. The faculty have a lovely tradition of filing out, then forming two lines at the top of the stairs for the graduates to walk through. It was startling to emerge from the auditorium to see so many of their faces turned towards us, and even more startling to hear my name called and see hands stretched out to me as I walked past.
As I walked up the stairs I walked right by Maude. She was fascinated watching all the blue velvet-lined gowns file past, and even more startled when I leaned down and addressed her. She just stared at me, as if I was some exotic creature. As if I had a mortarboard on my head.
Afterwards there were so many people milling around we had to leave, but as we walked towards the elevators I would see someone I knew and we would stop for a minute.
I don't have a lot of fondness for my law school experience but I don't hate it. It is an experience designed for young people in their twenties, and that is going to be alienating for someone older. I don't blame law school for the out-of-sync existence of middle age, nor can law school be blamed for my commuter relationship to it, my insistence on a life elsewhere, insulated from and outside of it.
The end of things is so rushed. I imagined somehow that I would have time to linger and say goodbye. There were some people I liked.
Two days ago I sat up until 6am writing my last paper, and tonight I spend the last night in my house writing this. This house has been a quiet place elsewhere for me for three years, and tomorrow the road will swallow it up behind me, and this door will close. I am already thinking about the bar exam, the bar course that starts Monday, and finding a job.
But for tonight, I am deep in the feeling of an ending. This was my transition from academia, and the plane has landed. We disembark. If I am lucky there will be an office at the end of the summer, and 8 to 6. But the papers, the research, the school calendar, the professors and classrooms will be gone. If I am lucky there will be interesting work. If not, there will be duty, and life lived in the corners of the week. But that is tomorrow.
This is not how I thought it would end, but the ending is not a surprise. Good night, academic life. Good night room. Goodnight, dusty college town. Goodnight to all the semesters of all the years of my life. Goodnight all-night papers and 48-hour exam crams. Goodnight person I was, and who I thought I would be. Goodnight, goodnight.
And have a pleasant tomorrow.