After a couple weeks I have stumbled into my new routine for the summer. Here are the bad parts:
I spend three or four hours, starting at 9 a.m., sitting in a classroom at NYU taking notes from a videotaped lecture about some facet of the law I haven't thought about since first year. I am scribbling alongside other people I don't know, so during the ten minute breaks that come every hour I eat my yogurt very pensively, or read a magazine, or just sit and stare. Or think about how beautiful NYU is, how the sweeping staircase and elegant lighting makes me feel like I attended law school in a subway station. Later in the day, after I wrestle with the obligation to do an additional three or five hours of work, I reach a point where I know there's no way I can accomplish everything I've been assigned to do. I try to work hard until L comes home, then I try to be lively and fun, all the while being nagged by guilt about the work and the studying that isn't happening...After dinner and some TV and conversation I do some more work, but it's never enough, the books and outlines are piled around me yet I never feel like I learn anything. A deadening routine that feels completely unproductive. Beneath the monotony and the boredom there lies a genuine fear, which becomes slightly sharper and more clear each day, as I wonder what would happen, and how things would be, if I failed the bar.
Here, then, are the good parts:
This summer I have more freedom than I have had in many years. I don't go to an office, I'm not riding the subway. I put on my shorts and flips and walk ten minutes to the school, and then by lunchtime I'm free again. I walk around Washington Square Park and up to Chipotle, where they say hi to me every day because they know me. On the way up I set my course through the sunshine and listen to my burgeoning soundtrack for the summer, like the insanely enjoyable "Touch My Body" remix, in which a new, chopped-up synthesizer beat swoops into the last minute of the song, followed by some deeper bass lines that give the song this sense of urgency and intensity -- I can never get enough of it, it only lasts a minute and then fades out, but I always want more, so I'm cranking up the volume to hold on for just a few more moments, dancing in my head and enjoying this 60 seconds of pure music bliss as I soak in my newfound freedom for the afternoon. That's what I'm doing as I walk to Chipotle by the park, with the long languorous summer day stretched before me. I've gotten back into road-running, too, doing a couple races already and getting some respectable times, and with the New York Half Marathon to look forward to in July. If I plan my day right I can get out by the river just as the sun begins to falter, taking in the tones of the water and the brick and glass when the colors are at their fullest. That's what the architecture of my day can look like, if it doesn't always live up to that kind of early-June promise. No matter how the day goes, though, it's hard to ignore the knowledge that this summer, for all of its pleasures and all of its anxieties, will never, ever last.