Yesterday I had one of those moments, when the past and the present mesh, when a remote and unimportant memory suddenly surfaces, and it feels strange, and it makes you self-aware…
Ten years ago I was a sophomore at the university where I now attend law school. Back then, I took daily trips up and down the hill the original campus was built on 150 years ago. It’s a wonderful and historic place. Abe Lincoln’s likeness looks over students shuffling between classes, going from botany class to the Education building to a political science teacher’s office hours in the oldest building on campus.
There was a brief time as an undergrad that I considered law school. I didn’t follow through. I didn’t have a purpose to consider law, other than having a vague notion I may be good at it. I threw myself into the student newspaper and other social activities and got my journalism degree, only to never use it again. No regrets though, just the truth.
The only modern building on the hill, the law school’s glass facade connects two nondescript older buildings, showcasing a mock courtroom. Walking by many years ago, in the evening, I wondered at the play lawyers arguing in front of pretend judges, surrounded by cherry paneling, illuminated by unflattering fluorescent lighting. I never envied them, that is for sure.
Yesterday afternoon, suited up and heading to my oral argument, I realized we’d actually be arguing in front of Professor Civ Pro in this mock courtroom. An old friend who’s also on campus mentioned to me a few months that she sometimes walks by and imagines I’d be in there, playing lawyer. I laughed at the time. Nah, I said, we just read cases and hang in lecture halls.
Frankly I never wanted to have to go in that court room. I’m not interested in court work. I may eventually do it in immigration court, but I don’t relish opportunities to speak in front of others. In fact, it terrifies me. I’m not interested in the theatrics of persuasion. I can’t extemporize to save my life.
But anyway, last night I went into the courtroom with my even more nervous argument partner, thinking, shit, here I am. Not like it’s some great accomplishment to go in there. I mean, I was forced to do it. But I just thought about the craziness of being almost 30 and in law school, changing careers, moving toward doing something I think will highlight my strengths and actually be rewarding, and being back in college town, in this building, this specific room, that I used to just stare at in awe.
And then I had to get up and talk to the judge. And it wasn’t horrible. Not awesome, for sure. But okay. And then in seven and a half minutes, it was over, and I went home to meet my law school buddy to make tamales and drink beer. All in all, not a bad day.