“Why do you think that you should take the LSAT on Monday?” Karl, my tutor, asked me.
“Well…” I puzzled. “I’m certainly not afraid of it.” I said as I clutched my pencil.
“In this room I listen to everything you say and your reasoning,” said Karl while twirling his finger and looking at the ceiling of Conference Room B in the Lexington Public Library. “So you’re telling me that your stated evidence to conclude that you should take the exam is that you aren’t afraid of it?”
I nodded. But knew where this was going. “Take a look at admissions websites” Karl continued, “and see for yourself whether it matters if you take the test now or in September.”
Later I would find snooty axioms such as: you need take the LSAT only once.
Ultimately, I chose to withdraw from the June LSAT. I wasn’t ready. And with the intention take the September exam, I won’t lose ground. Rolling admissions begin that same month.
My transition to living back in Lexington, Kentucky has been a season. I realized this morning, that I can categorize it in typical Molly-fashion as a time spent conquering my fears. Again.
Since the passing of Sandy Crain fall of 2014, I now organize my life in terms of “seek and destroy” such obstacles that prevent me from living a more self-actualized existence.
I admittedly haven’t succeeded all on my own. When she passed at the start of graduate school, I was saved by the fact that I was immersed in courses with group projects as their finals. I know very well how useless I was. Emotional weight and mourning, melting toward the finish line of the semester.
But I survived, as my 24-year-old body would want. And when I came out on the other side, I had learned that if I can survive the death of my mother, well shit, I could do just about anything.
Like showering with an acid-based body wash of exfoliating beads, I walked out of this trauma rid of dead skin, feeling robust, rubbery, and oddly clean. The anxieties no longer being responsible for the survival of another being too, had left me.
I now stood at the maw of my fears and unsheathed my sword. My foes had become smaller. My self-esteem solidified.
In the years following her death I enrolled in method courses embedded in data analytics, which I would have avoided previously. I came out on the other end a better political and social scientist. I wrote a thesis.
I traveled a lot. Forced myself to endure the discomfort of not knowing languages. Humbled by communal ways of life. I stepped on a plane without looking back. No Kentucky mother to tell me that the world was a place to fear.
I came home. Moved into an apartment one street over from where I lived when my mother was still alive. I confronted the wounds of myself and my family, and tried best I could to discern what was worth salvaging and what was acceptable to throw away. I have, in many ways, become a minimalist.
I haven’t been dating because I only see it as a deterrent from my goals. My time spent alone has been a time of self-discovery that could only have been gained by confronting the person in the mirror.
I have been writing, reading, studying for the LSAT. Each of these tasks are like waking up in the morning to squeeze lemons with battered fingers. Painful, monk-like, but promised that they will someday make lemonade.
In July, I’m taking a year-long AmeriCorps VISTA position with Kentucky Voices for Health as a communications coordinator and volunteer organizer. I’ll be moving to Louisville and out of this season I was lucky enough to have and contemplate.
Despite the pain of growth, I acknowledge the time spent living back in Lexington for its grace. How would I have ever been happy, moving on, without knowing I’d thoughtfully unpacked all my baggage?
Over the past few days my sister Lauralee and I have been pruning through the rather large library of my recently deceased Aunt Mary Markwell Crain, my father’s sister, who lived most of her life in Spain and Latin America as an anthropologist. At least 30 book boxes were stacked along the garage walls. We opened them all, found photos, books she published, chapters she had annotated, cassette tapes of interviews with agrarian Ecuadorian peoples. Mary’s academic niche was recording how injustices of colonialism affected agrarian peoples and culture in the Latin world.
Lauralee and I did not know her as well as we would have liked. We only have photos of her in scenarios where she’s dressed as a hippie outside of Santiago de Compostela, pilgrimage complete. But it has been our obligation to observe her life as one most vibrantly lived. We identify with Mary. A woman who lost her mother in what must have been her early twenties, she pushed onward by cultivating her education and living her life abroad.
But I am saddened too, at how her emotional bruises may have prevented my sister and I from knowing our trailblazing aunt a little better.
I can only hope that fearlessness in the face of adversity is genetic. By this notion, I am comforted that I still know her, as myself.