I’ve been thinking a lot about spaces filled and unfilled this past year.
After locking my carrel after my last exam of 1L year, I stared back at it, marveling at the wooden shell that had since transformed into an inhabited space with books, a blanket, the floral-print stapler I’ve had since middle school and the “Frozen” Kleenex box I haven’t opened yet purely because it makes me laugh every time I see it.
The intense, unrelenting silence that defined much of my study time. The time a fellow law student said “bless you” from several carrels away when I sneezed, and I momentarily felt less alone.
I learned to sit with the silence rather than run from it. Most of the time.
The time I walked along the river crying over my appellate brief and saw another person crying and walking along the river and clearly feeling deep shit, too. University campuses are, like, cool in that I can’t possibly be the only person crying over who knows what at any given point.
Silence from job after job after job for which I applied. And the only “yes” I needed from the Minnesota Department of Human Services in St. Paul, where I’ll be doing health law research and writing this summer (shout-out to the motherland for being like, “Baby, come back!”).
The brutal, on-and-off silences from the guy I liked for an excruciatingly long and drawn-out six months. The way he disappeared and reappeared with flagrant disregard for my feelings.
I still miss him sometimes. I have a note in my phone that consists solely of things I want to tell him if I could. Little things, mostly. The funny text my sister sent me. What book I’m reading. The time I handed the employee at the gym a Pancheros gift card instead of my student ID because my glasses had fogged up in the rain.
It’s always the little things.
The space at the end of the bar at Joe’s Place where I like to bring non-law books, order a cider and sit and read.
My neighborhood (LOL a generous term for Frat Circle, TBH) that’s temporarily, maybe eerily, quiet — no longer saturated with rap music and bouncing basketballs at 3 p.m. on any given day. Although I am pleased to report that the frat boys worked more Rihanna and Cardi B into their weekday turn-up playlist toward the end of the semester (at my [subconscious] request, I’d like to believe).
My first year of law school wasn’t defined solely by sounds I could hear but by moments there was nothing to hear. Nothing. Not a damn thing. Learning to sit in silence, hell, learning to sit in silence with my annoying, determined, moody self was a lesson in and of itself.
I will carry the spaces filled and unfilled from 1L year with me to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, where I’ll be working this summer.
Onward to 2L year, good people.