Today, I dabbled in the law.
Tomorrow? Who knows, maybe I’ll do some law stuff, maybe not.
I spent the last couple of days in Charlotte prepping witnesses and defending depositions. It felt good. It was familiar. I knew what to do and how to act. I knew when to talk and when to shut up. My desk, empty though it was, welcomed me back. My assistant, M (which could stand for Marvelous, but doesn’t), laughed outside my door and the sound comforted me. The other lawyers I work with sought my opinion on lawyerly things. It was like pulling on a soft t-shirt and a favorite pair of jeans.
Last night I drove back to D.C. and today I sat down at my desk and I did some work, but I was actually wearing the t-shirt and jeans (instead of the suit), and when they tested the fire alarm in our building I took the dog for a long walk, and I did laundry and dishes and unpacked the boxes I brought back from Charlotte. It still feels unfamiliar. And it feels solitary. And less powerful…but I like it too, this dabbling.
Tomorrow I’m going to get a pedicure. I’m going to read a deposition WHILE I get the pedicure, but still, this is a different place and a different life than I have led in a long time. It feels very much like I’m in a kind of “no-man’s land” where I’m just slowly, slowly putting down the accouterment of my lawyer life and looking around to discover what the tools of my new life will be.
So what are the tools an EFM (“Eligible Family Member”) needs in the FS? A sense of humor? A duck-like ability to let things roll off your back? Curiosity about new things? A willingness to let go? A cunning ability to pack a life into 600 lbs?
Turns out those are all tools I’ve needed as a lawyer too (well, maybe not the 600 lbs trick), so hopefully even as I slough off my current persona in favor of our new life I’ll be able to drag those things along with me (B cannot complain as they do not weigh a thing).
I’m incredibly grateful to have the chance to morph from “Partner in a law firm” to “B’s EFM” slowly, as I’m not sure I could have handled the jump to this new galaxy had I been forced to make it at lightspeed. But, I feel like I spend a lot of time sort of *testing* the water in my brain in terms of how I feel about this change. And I’m torn, I really am.
A big part of me doesn’t want to give up the rush of nailing a cross-examination, or the giddy feeling of putting the final period at the end of a great brief. It made me cry to think I might never try a case again – the most exhausting, overwhelming, emotional, physical, mental aspect of being a litigator – but also the most fun, and rewarding and, frankly, the reason we all put up with the rest of the B.S. The fact that I might never stand in front of a jury again makes me sad. But the idea that I might never have to put up with an unscrupulous, game-playing opposing counsel, who files a motion at 6 p.m. on a Friday just to cause misery and havoc, that makes me happy.
So here I am, straddling the line between desperately holding on to my old life, and desperately wanting to reach with both hands into my new life.
And tomorrow I’m going to do some law stuff and I’m going to enjoy it – even if it involves unscrupulous opposing counsel – and then I’m going to have dinner at an Uzbek restaurant with new friends who will speak Russian to the waitstaff and order new and exotic dishes for B and me to try. And somehow, in the next few months, I’m going to try and find a way to mesh those things – and all the old things I know like the back of my hands, and the new things I have yet to learn – into a D who can step over the line into a life where every step will take B and C and me to a different place and in a different direction than any place or direction we’ve been before. A D who will embrace the joy and luck I’ve had as a lawyer, and wrap it up with the joy and luck I’ve had as a daughter, wife and mother, so I can appreciate every experience (and the joy and luck) I have as B’s EFM.