Sunday, July 1, 2007

10 Years Ago

Tonight I'm watching "A Concert for Diana" on NBC celebrating her 46th birthday and 10 years since her tragic death. And I'm having a difficult time believing 10 years have passed so quickly.

My disbelief that a decade has passed in an instant has less to do with the death of Princess Diana, and more to do with what I was doing 10 years ago and how much my own life has changed.

In the summer of 1997, I was beginning my 5th year in Washington DC. President Bill Clinton was 6 months into his second term. The summer was relatively light at Hogan and I was working ONLY 40 hours a week (as opposed to the normal 60-80 hours I usually worked). I was playing in an intramural softball league through the Firm, enjoying happy hours with my friends and watching sunsets from the roof of Hotel Washington more nights than not. My friend Kelly and I attended the book party for up-and-coming author Brad Meltzer's first novel, The Tenth Justice, at the Mansion on O Street. Brad's wife worked at the Firm with Kelly and me, and although we knew many of the attendees, we were too intimidated to go meet Brad ourselves. He was a published author, after all, and while we were the same age he was, we believed him to be some larger-than-life figure who wanted nothing to do with us - the little people. Betsey and Ross were getting ready celebrate their first birthday, while I was still pondering how I'd ended up with two CATS! The Chicago Bulls had just celebrated their 5th NBA title in 8 years. And I was taking LSAT prep classes.

Politics and the law were my passions. It was because of those passions that I'd moved to DC in the first place. And I was headed to law school to pursue the dream I'd had longer than I could remember. I'd only ever envisioned myself a lawyer and it was finally the right time. So every waking moment and most sleeping ones too were filled with LSAT review questions. I even took my study guides to Watervale that August.

Like the SAT taken as part of college admissions, the LSAT is the Law School Admissions Test and quite possibly the worst part of application process. Law School is fiercely competitive and no place is more so than Washington DC - at least in my head. My undergraduate grades were not as stellar as they could have been, so my best bet for acceptance into an appropriate law school was my LSAT score.

Then came that night. It was a Saturday night and, although most single 20-somethings were enjoying the DC nightlife, I was sitting at my desk studying into the wee hours of the morning because The Test was just a few weeks away. Taking a break somewhere after midnight, I moved from my desk to my love seat and flipped on CNN. I don't think I ever made it to bed that night because I couldn't pull myself away from the TV. There are just some events that are permanently etched in our brains. My parents know exactly where they were when JFK was shot. For me, I'll always know where I was that night. The night Diana died.

Ten years later Princess Diana's boys are all grown up. And I never went to law school. Instead, I left Hogan, started my own business and moved back to Chicago. Yes, it all really changes in the blink of an eye.

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