Perhaps the most tedious task I’ve undertaken in law school was my recent, titanic effort to apply to take the bar exam. While I can’t speak for every other state, my particular application was unlike the application for any other standardized test I’d signed up to take. Usually, it seems as if you’re good to go as long as you enter your credit card information correctly. Oh no. In order to apply to take the bar exam, you must solicit letters attesting to your good character, list the address of every place you’ve lived for more than 30 days, obtain references from every employer you’ve had since you were eighteen, request a criminal record from every state in which you’ve lived, collect a driving record from every state in which you’ve held a license. The list goes on. I’m surprised they didn’t ask for my blood type. Rest assured, America. The Board of Bar Examiners knows a lot about its lawyers. Or at least about their speeding tickets.
As a professional nomad, compiling this information seemed like an impossible task. It didn’t help that I didn’t start the application until about a week and a half before it was due. I spent those overwhelming days on hold, listening to horrifically generic classical music and waiting for state driving agencies to just answer the phone. I wrote letters, printed letters, signed letters, notarized forms, ran through books of stamps and a box of envelopes. Of course, there were fun parts too. I caught up with former employers I hadn’t spoken to in months, had an excuse to talk to all the friends who would serve as references, and scrolled through my Amazon.com purchasing history to remember old summer addresses, alongside my forays into worlds of poetry, pottery, philosophy, and (suprirse!) law.
When I finally finished, I walked down the cold grey street towards the post office, clutching a thick manila envelope. Within that envelope was a brief history of my life. Since I graduated high school, I’ve been a barista, a river guide, a high school teacher. I spent a summer teaching gymnastics, and played piano in a jazz band. I’ve lived in six states, made life-changing friendships, and seen things I’d never dreamed of – both bad and good – and met people who have forever changed the way I look at the world.
And all of those experiences led me to a line in the post office, beads of frazzled, nervous sweat on my forehead, philosophizing about the breadth and depth of life I’ve lived since I first stepped out the door of my parents’ house to go to college. And while I’d rather get a little more sleep, rush a little bit less, and look a little more put-together in the line at the Post Office, it’s a life I wouldn’t change for the world. Bar exam, here I come!