Column: Uncertainty is bliss

By Brian Pierce

I am writing these words at Gate E9 of O’Hare airport. My flight is scheduled to depart in about a half hour. I am surrounded by the kind of rich diversity that can rarely be found anywhere but an airport. In a few hours, I will be landing at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

I am alone. And as much as I would like to think of myself as worldly, the fact is that this is the first time I have ever traveled alone.

Over the course of the next week, I will be visiting five law schools in three cities in five days and squeezing in as much as I can see of Washington, D.C., Boston and New York City. I am nervous and excited and blissfully uncertain.

I just boarded the plane. In a few moments, I’ll be in the air.

What I end up seeing during these law school visits could very well determine where I choose to spend the next three years of my life. If I find that New York is the dream city Woody Allen has led me to believe it is, I could decide NYU is the school for me. Should I discover that I’m a better fit for Massachusetts (a state possessing three of my favorite things in high doses: liberal politics, college campuses and homosexuals), I might end up in Boston.

In Washington, I’m staying with Josh Rohrscheib, a former Daily Illini columnist, student body president and a very close friend of mine. Though the University of Illinois is a school of tens of thousands, there is a smaller (but still quite large) group of students, all of whom seem to know or know of each other: former presidents of RSOs, members of the Student Senate, Daily Illini employees, College Democrats and Republicans, and so on.

Josh, having received both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Illinois, knew just about everybody there was to know, both students and administrators. By the end of his years here, he had developed a reputation as kind of the Rahm Emanuel of the University’s political sphere, freely employing a Machiavellian approach to university politics with an emphasis on getting results for students.

My plane’s in the air now, having reached its cruising altitude of 20,000 feet, and is currently turning east to fly over Lake Michigan before touching down for an hour-long layover in Detroit. The sun is resting on the horizon, reflecting off the wings and illuminating the interior of the plane in a violet twilight.

If I end up at Georgetown or George Washington University, I will be able to rekindle my friendship with Josh, and in an ideal world we could both embark on a life of political activism, him never reluctant to get his hands dirty in the name of a good cause and me always waiting for the opportunity to prove the existence of goodhearted people employing honest means and getting results that are both noble and tangible.

It’s a series of terrifying, hopeful thoughts I’m having, relating both to the immediate (Will this plane lose an engine and tumble down to the earth? Will my walk through Central Park be interrupted by a mugger?) and the long term (Will I be accepted into the law school I want? Will law school take me where I want to go? Will the strains of distance and the gulf between our approaches to politics chip away at my friendship with Josh until that once mighty edifice has crumbled away?).

The plane has begun its descent, the sun long since swallowed by the horizon, leaving only a glowing line of orange that quickly fades into a deep, dark blue.

The coming week will unfold in ways I cannot hope to predict. I have little to do but wait for this plane to land and see where things go from there.