On unexpected endings

Congrats to the Iowa Law Class of 2020!

Congrats to the Iowa Law Class of 2020!

I’ve been thinking about endings lately. Or maybe “dwelling” is more apt. It makes sense, given that I graduate from law school in nine days. Only the endings I’m dwelling on seem to multiply and linger, if you will, as new losses emerge daily.

I cry on my drive from Newton to Iowa City nearly every time, remembering that my three best law school friends—the people who made my beloved college town a home—aren’t there anymore.

I cried as I cleaned out my carrel, the unlit law library shielding my tears from view (as if there was anyone else around to see them). Staring into the dull, reflective plastic of my carrel lockbox for one last selfie, I saw a different person, three years later: one who got good grades and bad ones (looking at you, Trusts & Estates), one who wrote a whole Supreme Court opinion, one who had gotten into and (almost) graduated from a university she’d loved her whole life, one who found her calling as a future public defender.

The books from my carrel are still in my trunk, strewn about. I haven’t summoned the strength to bring them up the stairs into my apartment. Somehow, I think putting them in a neat stack would only do a disservice to this chaos in which I end my law school career and earn my J.D.

My beloved carrel blanket lays over some of them as if trying to shield me from some of the heartbreak of this ending, the way it all happened.

As much as the end of my law school experience feels like a bad breakup via text out of the blue, there are still reminders of how persistent and powerful this experience has been and will continue to be. There are still memes and BuzzFeed quizzes and big news to be shared in the group chat I have with my three best law school friends. Today I planned a graduation day brunch menu with my mom for what will be an at-home party to remember.

And Iowa City will still be here, will still be home, I keep telling myself. This is where I became the thing I wanted to be, where I became the first person in my family to go to law school, where I became someone who refuses to let my indigent clients fall through the cracks. Ever.

When I left to visit my family in my hometown five days ago, the trees all around my apartment in Iowa City were still bare. Today everything is green—the kind of deep green that somehow tints everything around it in the same shade. My time in law school and my experience here aren’t bare either, even with this tumultuous ending. They are very much alive in group chats, “heart” reactions to law school friends’ Facebook life events and graduation posts, and the knowledge that we all did this together from that first terrifying cold call to graduation next Friday.

After all, there are better things to dwell on than endings.

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