The Time of Tumult
Two weeks ago I packed up my life and relocated back home to New England to begin law school at Boston College. Leaving the love of my life and the city I’d called home for the last 10 years was an emotionally harrowing process, but with the support of my family and loved ones I was able to do it and feel positive about the decision. Of course, it involved some immense sacrifices and was going to present some serious challenges along the way, but there was also a sense of excitement as an entirely new world of possibilities began to stretch out before me. I went through the whirlwind of orientation, had my first day of class and, while feeling overwhelmed by the experience, was already making new and wonderful friends. As I was walking out of the law library after that first day of socratic legal education, however, I received a phone call from Osgoode Hall. After spending five purgatorial months on a wait list, I had been accepted. I resisted the urge to vomit all over the impressive statue of Saint Thomas More that dominates the courtyard outside of the Boston College law library. Chaos ensued.
For the second time in as many weeks I packed up all my belongings, stuffed them into the trunk of a hastily rented Chevy Malibu and drove 10 hours through the night to get back in time for the first day of orientation at Osgoode Hall. One thing that I’ve learned from this ordeal is that you can, in fact, withdraw from law school, return your books, cancel your student loans, pack up all your belongings, secure new student loans in a different country, register at a new school, and drive through 2 states and part of a province all in a 24 hour period if you’re insane enough to try.
The drive itself was an allegorical - almost Homeric - epic the likes of which I wouldn’t believe were it recounted to me by a stranger. The gridlock of mid-afternoon Boston traffic trying to keep me locked in; the apocalyptic storm that hit me in western Massachusetts, slowing me down to a crawling 20 mph as a literal wall of water eradicated any and all visibility. Flashes of lightning illuminated the foreboding black sky and peels of thunder caused the frame of my rental car to shudder violently. On either side of me cars were pulled over flashing their hazard lights as if to say, “turn back.” Yet I crept past them in my obstinate refusal to stop. And then, finally, the storm broke to reveal a beatific purple and orange sunset glow washing the western sky in a surreal water-colour canvas as if to say that I had made it. I had persevered through my Herculean labour. My resolve had been tested by nature’s wrath and I had endured. I felt in no small way a sort of Grecian hero as I sped across the country-side, leaving the devastation in my wake. Back in Boston an entirely new timeline for my whole life was being written and through a small amount of luck and sheer force of will, I aborted that fateful thread of possibility and completely rewrote my destiny. This may sound hyperbolic and I’m certain that the heightened emotional state in which I experienced all of this has coloured my perception, but I can’t shake the feeling that this has all been a rather momentous opportunity to look at my life anew. I had made the concrete decision to set down a path which could have carried my life in a completely new and different direction. And like a car veering violently across several lanes of traffic to cut suddenly onto a new exit, I completely altered that course with the snap of a finger. It feels to me like something out of Philip K. Dick’s “Adjustment Team”. Suffice to say, it’s been a rather existential experience.
Now, attempting to take part in a chaotic, 12 hour, spirit-filled orientation day on two hours of sleep after an exhausting cross-country drive is an exercise in watching yourself slowly unhinge. After a certain point your brain no longer even processes language. All you can do is smile and nod as people mumble incoherently at you and then place one foot in front of the other because, frankly, your only other option at that point is to crumple into a corner of the beautiful 19th century building which houses the oldest court of appeals in Canada and weep like a deranged lunatic.
And so, for the second time now, I’ve begun law school. It has been one of the most stressful, emotionally exhausting experiences of my life, but I have come out of the first week of class filled with the certainty that, at every step of the way, I have made the best decision possible based on the cards I had in my hand at the time. The exhaustion has begun to recede - though I know I’ll discover new depths of exhaustion as I wade into the endless morass of tort law and contracts - and I feel happy, excited and optimistic. I couldn’t have done this without the absolutely bullet-proof support of my family, my partner’s family, and the woman that I love more than anything. She lived through every moment of this with me and her patience, generosity, and support know absolutely no bounds. God only knows how she has put up with me through all of this, but I am, without question, the luckiest man alive.
So, I’m back, and It’s time to get to work. In the words of Jed Bartlet: “What’s next?”