From those left behind


The school year comes to an end, and the 3Ls go to new beginnings. That jerk graduation is going to abscond with some friends of mine. As a 1L, I knew few 3Ls, but this year I’m losing a number of people I’ve known for well over a year. Come June, they’ll venture to the four corners of the earth with their shiny new crimson degrees, never to return except for the few who make their first loan payments and come back asking about the exchange and return policies on graduate school education.

This is probably a good time to share deep, profound, and really deep thoughts with the dearly departing. But as a 2L, I’m not yet required to reflect upon my time in Cambridge and draw from living a life of law to make insightful conclusions about the laws of life. Gray hairs may have crept into my beard in my two years here, but wisdom and maturity are yet to follow suit. I hope that in another year I may see things more clearly, but considering the correlation between age and bifocal sales, that prospect seems dubious.

Instead, I will be content to sit here and whine about having to say goodbye like a younger child seeing an older sibling leave for college. I know we all have to move on to new things and new people. It would be libel for me to say that I won’t be good and ready to leave here next year. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could put all the good things and good people in one big box and take them with us? It would be like a toy chest, but with people.

The idea certainly has its romantic appeal, but I must admit that it would be lousy in reality. Within a day, I’d drop the chest or absentmindedly put a plastic bag over the air holes. And if I treated friends like I treated my toys, half of them would be missing arms and the other half would have someone else’s legs attached to their arm sockets with an inscrutable concoction of glue, tape, and rubber bands.

Besides that, I recognize that sometimes we have to leave things behind. We have to shed parts of the old life in order to grow into a new one. If growing and maturing were easy, then everyone would be doing it. I dislike that it works that way, but I’m not the one making the rules. If it were up to me, we’d ripen into wisdom through drinking beer and reading comic books. But even boozing it up with Batman provides only so much enrichment before it must be dropped to make room to learn new things.

And now it’s time for the 3Ls to drop law school and start on something new. I’m a little jealous of them because they’re leaving me behind, and next year I’ll be without the company of their misery. Or misery of their company. One of the two. But my jealousy fades when I think of what they’ll be learning: billable hours, document review, and more billable hours. These are perhaps lessons best learned vicariously. So I hope that the 3Ls will act like any older generation and report back to help me steer clear of the pitfalls with which they become intimately familiar. It’s more likely, however, that they’ll trick me into taking the same missteps in fond remembrance of the competitiveness of the grading curve, thus ensuring the misery of my company. Or company of my misery. One of the two.

I’m going to keep this final column of the year short for fear that I may accidentally blabber on into cloying sentimentality. Drivel like that leaves an awful, cough syrup-like taste in my mouth and can result in the revocation of my membership as a Midwestern male. I think people are prone to saccharine sayings as matter of an innate desire to find meaning in any epoch at its culmination. Like a good story, we want it to all be pulled together into one sensible, moving conclusion that imparts an essential lesson. But the real significance of an experience doesn’t come to us until we are much older and wiser. Any premature attempts to construe feel awkward and contrived. So I have no insight to share with those soon graduating. But I hope that now or in a few years, they will have some insight to share with me.

They say that parting is such sweet sorrow, but I’ve never had a parting that was both sorrowful and sweet. I was either sorry to see them leave, or singing good riddance. I know goodbyes are supposed to be sweet because of the anticipated joy of being reunited, but that prospect loses its sugar in recognizing how impossibly far and wide graduates will disperse. But I suppose any sense of impending loss for 3Ls should be at least partially mitigated by being able to say good riddance to exams, outlines, and all the irritating little things that make Harvard Law School the Harvard of law schools. And if they get nostalgic they can always read a copy of The Record online to remember why they loved law school. Or loved leaving law school. One of the two.

Taylor Dasher is a 2L.

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