Saturday night, I received a gleeful call from my best friend from college to report that she just got engaged to her wonderful boyfriend. They met when they were seated next to one another by chance at a destination wedding two years ago.
Then this morning, I got a gleeful call from my little sister. She reported that a chance meeting on a cross-country flight resulted in a job offer as a jewelry sales rep for a major clothing line.
Since things tend to happen in threes, surely I would have some joyful news of my own to report, right?
Well, unless you count finding out that I will be working for 93% of the holiday weekend as “good,” I got nothin’.
Careful analysis of the aforementioned examples of actual good tidings leads to one inescapable conclusion: Fortune befalls those who capitalize on chance instances of being at the right place at the right time.
And do you know who that’s epically bad news for? Me. And every other similarly situated attorney on a BigLaw roster. Because we’re in the exact same place, all the time.
I’m pretty sure that kismet doesn’t have proper ID to get past the guards at the elevator bank leading up to the 29th floor of my office building. And three highlighters all the exact same shade of neon yellow and a four-inch-thick deposition meticulously arranged on a tray table by a pale, scowling girl in a wrinkled skirt suit (that’s me) doesn’t generally inspire spontaneous conversation from adjacently seated captains of romance.
Not to mention, I haven’t been able to attend hardly any weddings—let alone destination—since my third year of law school. Seriously, the closest I ever come to seizing the day is when I enter my hours into the program on my desktop bearing the (cruelly absurd) name Carpe Diem.
In other words, the only thing that’s poised to fall into my lap by chance is the keyboard tray attached to the underside of my desk.
So, on the eve of a holiday weekend that finds its roots in the labor movement, I’m feeling a bit like inspiring a little movement myself. A few short years ago, my goal was an inscrutably reliable salary that flowed from a lockstep existence in an ergonomic desk chair, devoid of soul and surprise.
But now? Now I’m starting to notice that time seems to be moving exponentially faster every year that goes by. In fact, I’m already developing an acute fear of the anticipatory regret and resentment that I will undoubtedly suffer when I wake up 40 and single.
I’m willing to face facts, which means I’m well aware that there’s no house on North Dearborn and a closet full of Christian Louboutins in my near future. So instead, I need to be excited by the notion of living life out in the open and seeing where that leads.
It reminds me of this conversation I had a few weeks ago with a partner who hates practicing law. He was lamenting that he bought a condo the minute he finished paying off his student loans. Instead, he wishes he hightailed it out of BigLaw and onto some dream of doing something else infinitely more interesting. All of a sudden, he looked at me heartily.
“You’ve got loans, haven’t you?”
Well, I don’t. And since I don’t, I’ve consistently dodged answering this very question since I was a 1L. However, he caught me off guard, and I answered honestly.
I tensed reflexively, expecting a snide remark. Instead, he arched an eyebrow, and gave me a coy smile.
“Well, then. You know what happens to a balloon that isn’t tied to anything, don’t you? It floats away.”
I had a hard time not laughing in his face. But the more I think about it, and the longer I sit around this tragic firm, the more I feel like he’s laughing in mine.
Have a good holiday weekend, lawyers. And if you’re the firm’s bitch this weekend like me, think less about how lucky your are to have a job, and give some thought to where you’d float away in a perfect world. Because the cosmic universe still needs one more report of good news to complete the cycle.