Allison over at A Broken Fortress posted yesterday about how she met her fiance, so I thought I'd contribute to the love story posts. I love blogs - I never run out of ideas :) I'm always getting ideas from others or seeing things in my day-to-day life that I just can't wait to share here. Happy stuff :) This will be long (it is *me* telling the story, after all) so settle in with some tea. I'll divide it into 2 parts so that it won't be one giant leviathan post that you quit reading halfway through out of sheer frustration for the way the Catholic Librarian goes off on tangents. Ok, we'll start with some foundational back story, and here we go...
The years after I finished law school and moved back home were tender ones. That began at age 25, and I had come back to my Catholic faith only 2 years prior. In many ways, I was discontented during that time period, because I was lonely and unhappy in my career as an attorney. On the other hand, my life was blooming. My faith was secure and strong, and I met a group of Catholic friends about my same age, all of whom were single as well, and we formed a monthly prayer group.
Right after I moved back, I started dating someone (the brother of a friend) and we talked avidly about discerning marriage. Life was good. Soon after that, I found out that...
Ok, here's a big Catholic Librarian revelation. One of those things I don't often let slip... but that I'm announcing on a public blog, but hey! I don't see it as inconsistent :) The intriguing thing about memoirs is that you feel that you truly get to know somebody through their writing, thus you have to open up at times, and I feel that this blog is my memoir. So, here goes:
I failed the bar exam. Yep, failed. With a capital F. It was one of the most difficult things that has ever happened to me. I didn't fail by much, but fail is fail, and I failed. This is not something that the Type A Catholic Librarian deals with easily. FAILURE. I was absolutely crushed. How did this happen? Well, I had a bit of a panic moment during the exam itself wherein I examined my life choices right in the exam room and seriously doubted my sanity in choosing to become a lawyer when it so totally did not suit me. What was I doing with my life? Is this was God wanted for me? (if only I had asked that question *before* starting law school, *sighs*). I don't know, but what I do know is that I hate this... Ok, this is all happening as the *timed* exam is occurring, so you can see how this went down. For that segment of the excruciating 2 day exam, I ran out of time. That one weak section was enough to do me in. BarBri Retaker course, here I come...
I knew that I didn't want to devote the rest of my career to being an attorney. However, for the short term I needed a job (law school loans, they are SO not pretty) and for aforementioned job I needed to pass the bar exam. The stress was immense. Did any of my new colleagues also fail the bar exam? Nope. Not a single one. Traitors. Granted, the passage rate in our state is one of the lowest in the country, because it is a *monster* of an exam, so I had plenty of company in that regard. But in my firm? Yeah, I was the only one. I was the one that the nice partner had to come comfort in my office and tell me that she too had failed the bar exam on her first attempt. As had one of the renowned founding and named partners of the firm. Comforting? Somewhat. Still, it sucked. Bad.
I'm veering off topic, but I know you're still with me because this is part of my charm, no? *beams hopefully* Ok, so major, major stressor in my life at that point. Did I want to take that exam again? I'd rather eat live bugs. But I knew that I had to. Not just for my job, but for *me*. I knew that I could pass it, and if I never tried again, I wouldn't forgive myself.
So I studied. I put on about 15 pounds of stress weight. I went in to take the exam, and what a difference from the previous excursion. Instead of puffed up recent law graduates talking about their new jobs with the fancy salaries, we had people with wide eyes clutching tissue in the corners, saying that as editor of their school's law review, they just can't understand how this happened.
I remember telling God that I really, really wanted to pass, and that I prayed that this suffering be taken from me. But if this was a cross that He should choose for me to bear, so be it. I'd take it as a sign that I should change careers posthaste. I was actually shockingly serene about the whole thing. I had a good feeling, and I was as prepared and calm about it as possible. I was a lean, mean bar exam taking machine. That exam is killer though, man. I remember thinking to myself, "if I had time to actually fully *read* these questions, I know that I'd know the answer."
But I felt good about it. Much better than the first time. Part of the excruciation factor is that it takes the state like 4 freaking months to grade the darn things. But I waited, and instead of waiting up for the scores to appear online at midnight like I did the first time, I went to bed and just got up for work like usual in the morning. When I got to the office, I logged into the state bar examiners' web site and checked: on the list of successful candidates, there was Catholic Librarian :) It was a giant relief.
In the mean time though, a tough break-up had occurred with Post-Law School Boyfriend #1, ironically enough also named Mike. So, Mike1. I had had high hopes for Mike1 and the relationship, so I was pretty crushed, but in the end I knew that it was the right thing.
Life wasn't easy at this point, but I bore it well with my faith and my friends. I was living with my parents in order to save money, had no boyfriend, and a job that left a lot to be desired. Not exactly the mid-20's lifestyle of my dreams.
The following year, I was starting to feel a tad old maidish ("are you seeing anybody? Still no? Why not?") and I met Mike2. Yes, his name was also Mike. I seem to have compiled a collection of them. He was Catholic, joined our prayer group, and genuinely a great guy. We dated for about 3 months or so, not a long time, but I was feeling hopeful. And then...
Mike2 went by the wayside. He just didn't feel ready to keep moving forward toward commitment. I was disappointed, but I rebounded pretty well. He just wasn't God's match for me.
A few months go by, and my job was pretty intense at that point. I was just not liking it (to put it mildly), and made the major life decision to finally leave my legal career behind to finally do something that I loved. So I applied to library school and was accepted. I made plans to quit my job. No easy venture with those law school loans lurking. About 2 months or so remained before I'd start school. I secured a gig working for minimum wage in the law library once the upcoming spring semester began. My life was going to change (and I was going to be a lot poorer...) but I felt in my bones that I had made the right decision.
Around this same time, our family dog was really ill and needed to be put down. It was just one of those times in life when difficult things seem to all come out of the woodwork within the same 2 month stretch. In a surprising development, Mike2 actually emerged from the ethers suddenly all ready to commit, but I had to redirect him. In the time that we hadn't been seeing each other I discerned that we simply weren't meant for each other, and I had moved on emotionally. He took it very graciously. He's a really nice person; I wished him well. For the first time in as long as I could remember, I didn't feel pressure to meet someone and get married. Intense stress helps one to put things in perspective, I believe. If God had that in mind for me, it would happen, and I finally released this fear that I'd always retained of becoming the neighborhood Crazy Cat Lady.
Then, one day in November 2002, my friend Sarah (one of the original Catholic friends) invited me to a party at her fiance's apartment. Her fiance was in graduate school, and was having some friends over. Initially, I told her I couldn't go, because I was planning to travel with my parents to visit my sister Rhonda in New Jersey. Then a storm system moved in and delayed our travel plans eastward. I called Sarah and told her I could go. So I did.
Want to find out the rest? :) Stay tuned for part 2, coming later today...