Heather Aquino

My road is my own

We are sitting at the booth in the far right hand corner of the restaurant, our "usual" table we like to call it. It's been nearly seven years since high school yet the four of us still continue to request this table, just as we had when we were sixteen years old. I sit farthest from the wall, slowly sipping a cherry coke, looking at the faces of the women I have grown up with. Looking at my childhood friends.

I am the last to arrive after my train was delayed 30 minutes at Penn Station, and by the time I claim my seat in the booth everyone else has already placed their orders. I quickly scan the menu, and make my decision based on approximate time of preparation rather then taste. I realize I haven't eaten since right before Immigration Law, which was about 7 hours ago, and I am famished. Jen continues with her latest tale of wedding planning mishaps, and Lily updates us on her and her husbands' upcoming move to Florida. Kate, however, is the focus of most of our attention. Newly pregnant, we are in awe of the changes that are happening within her body, and we are eager to ask questions. Our discussion of potential baby names are interrupted when the food finally arrives at the table, and the conversation is temporarily put on hold. The table is suddenly silent, and for the first time in the evening I feel a distinct feeling of relief.

I look at the faces of my childhood friends and wonder when these dinners, which I used to look forward to for days, began to make me feel like an outsider. Like there was something wrong with being 25 years old, and nowhere close to wedding plans and baby showers. I want to tell them that their plans, their lives, make me feel anxious. I want to tell them that I worry about juggling it all--a career, a future marriage, a future family. I want to tell them how foreign all of these concepts are to me right now, that while they struggle with floral arrangements and decorating baby rooms I spend hours in the cafeteria, drowning endless cups of coffee surrounded by piles of casebooks.

At least I know I am not alone. Sitting in the cafeteria studying with my female friends from law school, we usually attempt to keep the conversation limited to constitutional rights and civil procedure, but we are often guilty of becoming sidetracked. Often our conversations turn to this fear of the future that I am feeling right now. The understanding that our lives are not progressing like many other women our age. We are in our mid-to-late twenties and most of us feel that starting a career will come before starting a family. But, if this is so, when will be begin to start a family? How late can we wait? And what will be the consequences? And, when we do start a family, how on earth will we juggle it all? As we sit in the school cafeteria and discuss our fears in hushed voices, we know that the tables full of men next to us are not having similar conversations. We know that they do not share our concerns.

Only when the waitress returns to take away our empty plates and offer us coffee and dessert does the focus of the conversation begin to fall on me. My friends want to hear about school, about classes, and about job prospects for the future. They are proud of me, they say, and impressed by how hard I have been working. My anxiousness has begun to subside. My course, I tell myself, is simply different from the others. My road is simply my own. And, I suddenly realize, I am proud of "me" too.



I think it's true that many female law students can relate to this. Thank you for sharing a glimpse of the realty we endure.  Congrats on the scholarship!

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