March 12, 2012


I found out I got into law school while standing in the post office two towns over from where I lived and one town over from where I worked. It was my first acceptance letter and an early response - I had expected to wait months longer. It came as a weighty envelope and I tore into it right there in the middle of the tiny, tiny post office. I spun around to squeal to the clerk, but I was afraid it would be obnoxious, so I swallowed the high pitch and darted to my car. I sat very still in the driver's seat for longer than expected, rested my head on the steering wheel, noticed the release of my shoulders. It was a cold December morning, but Vermont cold is still sunny and the heat in my car made it feel like spring. The letter made it feel like spring.

I drove out of the parking lot and took a right up the hill. Drove past the church where I would spend evenings chaperoning middle school dances and past the farm owned by a man who I would learn went to the same college as I. I sat still and quiet in the driver's seat, until I reached the peak and the mountain road leveled off and the few houses disappeared. When everything around me grew quiet, it bubbled up. Quickly. Loudly. I squealed. And then I squealed again. And then I giggled. And then I started to dance. And then I shrieked. I drove past the cows that would eventually get lose on a regular basis and I worried that my shrieking would start a stampede. But I kept shrieking. And dancing. And bobbing, up and down on my seat. And the sun shined brightly through the trees.

Eventually, the road descended and a house appeared. Then another. I tried to stop shrieking. Afraid people would come running out of their homes to check on the ruckus. I managed to muffle it a little. They really would have come running out. And I stopped bouncing. I might encounter another car in the next few miles to work.

I was out of breath by the time I pulled into the school parking lot and parked in our designated area. I hardly pulled the emergency break and flug off my seatbelt before I catipulted myself out of the car and towards my office door. The sky on this side of the mountain was grey and I fumbled with my keys and wished for the thousandth time that I had cell service but was so grateful that the one-room office was empty. I called my mom. I called my dad. I got the phone cord tangled around my wrist.

And then I sat in the quiet.

And thought.

About how it would change my life.

I would stand up and testify in front of U.S. Congress on why all kids should have strengths-based, positive youth development, leadership programs.

I would live in a highrise condo. With a view of the city.

I would wear suits with tall black heels.

My fingernails would stop breaking, my hair would stop frizzing.

I would have a husband who thought I was intelligent. Wicked smart.

The whole world would want to listen to me.

I would never have to cook ever.

(I was twenty-two.)

The seventh graders who had second block language arts class two rooms down from our one-room office barrelled up the wooden ramp to the trailor. Second graders are more likely to stampede than cows, I realized. One of my supervisors walked through the door. I didn't wait for her to even finish saying goodmorning before I blurted out that I had gotten into law school. "Congratulations!" She threw her arms around me. And so the good feelings continued.


One of my first year law school professors began the year by telling us that law was not flashdance. It was rough, raw, untanned work. It is. It is rough, raw, untanned work. There is very little flash to it. Very little dance. Some of the ways I thought my life would change happened. Some of them did not. As long as I am living in DC, my hair will never stop frizzing. The day I received the first acceptance letter, I saw only the flashdance. The end product. The destination. Not the rough, raw, untanned work. Not the journey. 

I know how it goes the second time around. There is no real second time around (there never is) but there are lessons I learned well. Paradigm shifts I breath. Forward steps to take in the here and now. A better path to take to arrive at the same destination. Flowers to pick, pebbles to kick, skies to admire.

1 comment:

  1. Always lessons learned...learning experience, I call them.  You take them, you learn from them (because you certainly can't change them), and you move on.  GREAT WORK!  :)