The final final ran its course on Monday morning. I came out of the test, got cornered into an awkward and slightly contentious conversation regarding some of the most recent and most frustrating law school drama, and then almost literally RAN out of the doors. Tragically I was back mere hours later doing research for my professor and facing the reality that is my substantial writing paper, which I have high hopes of finishing this week. And here we are.

This week has been all about saying goodbye to 2L. Feeling some of the premature nostalgia for the experiences and friendships that I'll miss. Trying to cope with some of the bigger disappointments. Taking in how much this year has changed me. I've been trying to figure out how to write this post in a way that truly represents what's in my burned-out head. I'm not sure I'm a good enough writer to be able to do that.

Who knew that 2L would turn out the way it did? I didn't. It was far more exciting and dramatic than I ever expected. It was more fun and stressful that I thought it would be. More ups and downs than I hoped for. More hours than I anticipated. More emotional exhaustion than I thought possible. More satisfying than I believed it would be.

But 2L was hard. It was really really hard. And even now as I type this, I can feel the weight of the 2L year on my face, on my shoulders, and in my head. I'm a very different person now than I was one year ago. More jaded in some ways. More aware. More sensitive. Less sensitive. More consumed with battling and trying to understand the fine line between hope and realistic expectations.

2L taught me that one giant disappointment doesn't have to mean that all future goals are impossible. At least it taught me to hope for that. It taught me that challenges are much easier when good friends are consistent. It taught me that sometimes spending time with my family on a Sunday afternoon is better than comfort food. It taught me that hard work is satisfying but it comes at a cost. And at the very very end it finally started to succeed in teaching me a lesson it attempted to teach me all year--that a person needs balance in their life. Yes, it did take all the way to the bitter end for this to begin to click.

This was the year of grueling competitions. This was the year of the Swine Flu and Surgery. This was the year interviewing. The year of staying at school until all hours of the night to meet deadlines. The year of income tax law. The year of laughing hysterically with some of my closest friends about some of our most embarrassing shared experiences. The year of using Corey's phone to text myself compliments and apologies that she would never have sent in real life in order to show the whole school. The year of party planning with Annette between our frantic struggle to master the federal income tax system after our other friends bailed on us for an equally miserable IP Moot Court class. The year of sitting in study rooms for hours on end with Jeff to practice closing arguments and Moot Court problems until we had that ringing sound in our ears (Tinnitus?). The year of accidentally running 15 miles up the canyon with Joe despite not having exercised for a month or two. The year of plotting with Corey about how we could become best friends with all of our professors. The year of accidentally telling an interviewer that I once ran a 2:15 marathon. The year of saying hello and goodbye to new and old friends.

As I sit here now at the law building while my friends around me clean out their carrels and excitedly talk about their summer plans, my feelings are mixed. I'm a bit somber. I'm excited too. Nervous and unsure. I wonder what this summer is going to be for each of us. How we'll all be so different when we next see each other, four months from now, after returning from all parts of the earth with another summer of intense legal work in the real world under our belts. I'll miss them. And I suppose this is just a preview of a much more permanent break that we'll all experience one year from now.

It's time to close this chapter. This chapter opened 12 months ago as I set off excitedly for Russia. Looking back on that now, I see a person who really had no idea what the next 12 months would bring. And it makes me wonder what will unexpectedly transpire in the next 12 months. I hope that whatever it is, it will be exciting, in a good way. Interesting, in a good way. And a little bit stranger, which doesn't come any way but good.

So farewell my dear friend, Mr. 2L.

~It Just Gets Stranger