As I get closer and closer to the end of April, when I will officially “retire” from my firm, the prospect of stepping back from my life as a lawyer becomes infinitely more real, and infinitely more terrifying. It is not the prospect of moving to Kinshasa that makes my stomach drop from nerves and stress, but the prospect of no longer having my identity as a lawyer – as a partner and part of a law firm where I have spent my days (and a few nights) over the last 17+ years.
As I sit here researching a point of law, my heart pounds and my stomach turns over when I think about the fact that I may not have access to Westlaw in a few months. I may no longer be able to be part of intellectual conversations about how to respond to a tricky issue, or what the best strategy would be for solving a problem for a client. This is tempered by my excitement too – excitement for the additional time I’ll get to spend with B and C, about my ability (at least while in Arlington) to take classes at the Apple store, and all the other things I’m excited to get to learn, do and be a part of.
Right now though, it’s more about trying to figure out what will happen to the part of me that is the D, Attorney-at-law. Will it be like a vestigial organ, always feeling like it is still there? Will I try to reach for it, or think with it, at inopportune times? Will it fade into my past like knowing how to put racing bandages on a horse, or draft a press release? Will I still be ME if I am not a lawyer?
I just don’t know the answer, but even the question makes me feel a little sick.