Thursday, January 21, 2010

When I Lived in London with Robert Browning

When we were living in London five years ago, I was feeling a bit pathetic.  We were there for Steve’s second masters, and my sister and her husband, our dearest friends there, were also both in graduate school.  I was the only one not studying.  As I was the one who originally got my own graduate degree and then pushed Steve toward graduate school, having him pass me up was a blow to my pride, I admit. 

I reminded myself that I was lucky to have the time to see and learn everything I wanted to about London, and I did (everything you can see and learn with two little kids in tow).  I forced myself to write periodically about my experiences, to keep my skills up.  And I listened to lectures and read voraciously.  But I still felt dissatisfied.

One day in early December, as I pushed Ruby’s stroller down the wet sidewalk, I was hit with overwhelming power with the idea that I needed to take the LSAT.  The feeling was so strong and undeniable that within a day I registered for the test, and found a prep class right in London.  Steve and I sacrificed to get me to the class, and my dad helped by covering the cost.  I shut myself in the bedroom of our tiny flat night after night to study.  I felt really rusty and was sure I would have scored much better if I’d taken the LSAT seven years before, when I narrowly decided to go to writing school instead of law school.  Still, I pulled a pretty respectable score.  I wasn’t too concerned about the logistics of law school, because I knew the score was good for five years.  I had plenty of time to figure out how to fit it in to my life.

Fast forward five years:  as our plane took off from London Heathrow en route to Ethiopia this past October, my LSAT score officially expired.  By that point my mind was on other things, of course.  But in the months previous to our adoption, I spent a lot of anguish thinking about the LSAT issue.  I knew there was no way I could go to law school and do a good job integrating our new children into their new family.  I didn’t feel I could have gone before now, because we could never have afforded it.  Oh yes, and there was that time lost to a baby's death.

Yet why did I feel SO strongly—so inspired—five years ago, that I must prepare for law school?  If it was inspiration, then why did my score expire worthless?  Some have suggested that the importance of the test was just in taking it—in giving me something to do, a way to use my brain and “study,” so I wouldn’t feel so left out in London, or to prove to myself I could still do it.  I just don’t feel that’s really it.  I haven’t satisfied the question.

I may be a chronic malcontent.  I should be happy to be in the midst of fulfilling one life goal, and not expecting to pursue another.  I know, but then I hear Mr. Browning say

Robert BrowningAh, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for? …
I know both what I want and what might gain,
And yet how profitless to know, to sigh
"Had I been two, another and myself,
"Our head would have o'erlooked the world!" No doubt."




No doubt.

8 comments:

Brooke said...

I thought and still think you are crazy for wanting to go back to school, but I do understand wanting to do something that you are good at. That wouldn't be school for me, but it is for you. I think your life has taken a drastic turn that no one could have predicted. I think you are a great mother, well educated and a fabulous friend wether you go to Law school or not.

Sally said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sally said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sally said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sally said...

If you had not done the LSAT five years ago, now you would be thinking that if only you had, how different your life would have been, you would have gone to law school etc etc..... And of course your life would have been different if you had not done it, and you would always be wondering. No education is wasted and having done the LSAT is part of who you are today, you will be mentally the richer for it and therefore an even better parent. And presumably there is nothing to stop you retaking it sometime in the future, if you want to?

Emily said...

Sorry, Sally! I should have rejected all your testing posts--I just thought maybe you were testing to see if they showed up online. Now it looks like you said a lot of sensational stuff. OOOOHHH!

Sally said...

I doubt it was sensational! But, if you like, I will try for sensational another time! Might be a tall order, though ......

emilysouthers said...

"chronic malcontent". I love that phrase. I have known many people in my life that fit that description, but have never been able to describe it so succinctly.