Friday, August 12, 2005

Now, pause with your life and go back a few years…

…to when you were a student.

Academics have a way of recalling their halcyon days of studenthood by coming together during annual professional meetings and clicking their cell phones like crazy to connect and reconnect, in various configurations and groups of past associates and long-time friends. All you need is your annual convention and a working cell phone and you are set.

Law school doesn’t offer the same opportunities. Oh, sure, there are more meetings than there are flakes of oats in a bowl of granola (I’m having a snack and my mind is wondering to the food in front of me) – ABA, AALS, L&S, various CLE’s – put together any permutation of letters in the alphabet and you’ve got yourself a legal meeting! And most are large, anonymous, with nary a soul from your law school cohort.

And it is a shame, because more likely than not, your law school pals will have formed a tight and enduring set.

My own consisted of 4. We were different from the rest. We had small children (both of my daughters were born when I was a law student; don’t asked me how I did it – call it the greatest endurance trip of all time, made possible by basically no sleep).

All but me left Madison. So I am the one who looks around and says oh this town is the same old same old, and they say (when they are back here) – Jesus, this place has changed (actually, they don’t say Jesus anything, they are as respectful of religion, as I am, except that this word serves like such a good exclamation point before a sentence so that I forget myself)!

Tonight they came back to Madison – some just for one night. It’s not really about catching up. It’s about being able to step back and redescribe yourself in a plausible way, without pity, without bragging.

They are slightly older than me, but they are patient with my jumps and leaps in life. We’ve played together, traveled together with and without our children, we’ve gone through periods of terrible illness and wonderful hope, we’ve all abandoned law firm jobs in favor of doing something different.

And really most importantly, we raised children. Our children were there, getting sick during our finals. They clung to us and we to them. It’s like “mommy, mommy do not leave me for that awful class!” “I have to go, dearest, besides, it’s not awful.” “You said it’s awful, you said! Besides, we are your children…” I wont even admit how many times they got me on that one, leaving me to chuck whatever unfulfilled obligation I had in favor of singing along to Ernie and Bert.

Madison Aug 05 157

...when I jump out, you jump in

There is a hell of a lot of hopscotching and jump-roping going on this week-end. Or maybe it is more like a dust storm, swirling masses of people, furniture and various and sundry items, round up in the air, only to land them in interesting and different places.

Today alone, a blogger packs up and leaves (amidst dust balls swirling in his now abandoned RV) and four law school friends stage a reunion (the last time we congregated was in the dusty desert of Arizona as described here), while tomorrow, daughters return home for a visit, and the loft takes in some basic indispensable objects-- all this as I wipe more brick dust from freshly painted banisters and shelves. Can’t live in the place without a table and a bed, can you?

I am focusing on loft details now. These are mostly noticable when you freshly inhabit a place. After a few months I wont even be aware of the interweaving of pipes and shafts. You take everything that is familiar and unchanging for granted. But today they make me pause and look up. I like what I see.

Madison Aug 05 152

I found a companion peeking 'round the banister. Must be one of the birds I wrote of in the previous post.

Madison Aug 05 150've got one hour, it's time you told your story...

Sometimes you get only an hour, sometimes a year, sometimes more. And when that space opens up for you, so often you go from telling your story, to living an even better one.

To listeners of people's stories, to those who turn you away from events you should ignore and nudge you toward good things: quaint noises of singing birds that totally lull and distract you -- this one's for you.