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Posts Tagged ‘dreams’

So in the fall of 1986, alone in a tiny rented cottage on an island in San Diego Bay, I set off on the journey of motherhood. My lawyer suits, one gray, one beige, one black, one navy, one brown, hung listlessly in the closet of the bedroom I shared with the husband I never saw. My black, tan, and navy four-inched heeled pumps remained in their shoe boxes. For the first three months of the journey, I rarely got out of my bathrobe. After that, it was elastic waist pants and frantic dieting until, finally at my daughter’s first birthday, I could sigh with relief and zip my jeans.

The task of dealing with a constantly crying infant wiped my memory clean of what it had been like to be a lawyer, pulling twelve and fourteen-hour days in major law firms back east. I truly wanted children when I finally decided to have them, but I also think I was on the run from a profession I hated and that I had never intended to join.

When I was eleven years old, I decided I wanted to be a writer. I read constantly even before I went to school, and I began to write stories in third grade. I had no doubt in my child mind that I was born to be a creative artist until the night I announced my intended destiny at the family dinner table. My rational, linear father went crazy, outlining the impossibility and stupidity of trying to reach that goal. I slunk back to my bedroom, full of shame for aspiring to be something so outrageous and totally WRONG.

The trouble was, the dream of writing stories would not go away. I realized it was safer to hide my identity underground, as I went on writing. By age thirteen, I had finished a three-hundred page novel.

I thought by going to graduate school and getting a Ph.D. in English, I would move forward with my dream of being a writer. But by the time I had my Masters in English, I could see the reality of every graduate student’s situation: THERE WERE NO JOBS IN UNIVERSITIES TEACHING ENGLISH. And graduate school, like all the other forms of school I had encountered, did not foster creativity.

In the 1970’s, disappointed liberal arts majors of all kinds were going to law school, including, for the first time a significant number of women. I went to talk to the Assistant Dean at the University of Tennessee College of Law about enrolling. She said, “The law is only words. You’re good at words, right?”

Good at words, yes. Good at nit picking trivialities, no. I graduated second in my class; I was admitted to the Order of the Coif, the Phi Beta Kappa for lawyers. I was wooed by major law firms in New York, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Richmond, Virginia. I studied for and passed the Virginia bar in 1981.

But as soon as I sat down at my new associate desk in Richmond, the overwhelming lack of creativity that is THE LAW began to choke me. I had never been so bored in my life.

Next: Driving the wrong way down a one-way street (my perilous adventures as a baby lawyer) and how I was nearly gobbled alive by a female partner with a penchant for hats

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