Five years ago yesterday, at 7:15 am, I shot up in bed, my heart pounding and my stomach a tight ball of fear.
I jumped out of bed, stumbling on the blankets that had tangled around my legs during my sweaty anxiety dreams, and grabbed my Wills notes from my desk, frantically scattering pages until I found the one I was looking for.
New York Will execution requirements. Two witnesses. A notary. Everyone in the same room.
The following day was the first day of the New York Bar Exam. Monday was supposed to be a rest day. It said so right there on the bar review schedule. A day to let our brains absorb all the law we had been cramming into them for ten weeks.
But I didn't want to leave my room. I hadn't been farther than two feet away from my study materials in almost three months, and the idea of leaving to meet friends for the early movie and dinner that I had planned was not at all appealing. I wanted to stay with my notes and my books where it was safe. Where I could look something up if I forgot it.
But the schedule said to take some time off, and the schedule was gospel. So I shoved my review notebook into my bag went to meet my friends.
But I couldn't settle. Despite my friends' best efforts to talk about anything but the impending test, during dinner I was listing elements of torts in my head. During the movie I was trying to remember the difference between robbery and theft. And by the time I left my friends, my deliberately placid veneer had started to melt, leaving behind a wild-eyed mass of terror and nerves.
I meant to go home, but instead I found myself at David's apartment, twenty blocks away. He wasn't there, so I let myself in and sat down on the couch, careful to keep my head still. Sure that any sudden moves would cause all the information packed in there to fall out and scatter all over the floor.
When he got home, he found me sitting in silence. He asked me what was wrong and for the first time I said the words that I hadn't yet allowed myself to even think.
"What if I fail?"
I waited for him to assure me that I wouldn't fail. That I wouldn't end up in this exact same place six months from now. But he didn't. Instead he simply said,
And then he sent me home.
I got into bed, sure that I wouldn't sleep. But as I pulled the covers up I felt the exhaustion that I had fed with caffeine, anxiety and adrenaline for nearly ten weeks take hold.
And for the first time since the first day of bar review I wasn't furiously listing elements of crimes or the rules of evidentiary proceedings. As I drifted off to sleep, my mind was blissfully empty but for one single word.