Stop Asking Where I'm From

“Isn’t it funny how your dreams come true?”

Written By: humarashid - Jul• 06•13

That was what my boss said to me after I told him this story. And I couldn’t agree more – it’s pretty hilarious how my life has worked out. And continues to work out. It’s pretty hilarious how all of these things I never thought would be possible just kind of … show up.

So let me put this in context. It’s a very rainy July 3rd afternoon, and my boss and I are enjoying excellent coffee and the best brownie I’ve ever had at Two Prudential Plaza on the 200 N. block of Michigan Avenue in the city. Here’s a picture. I wanted to snap one as I was leaving so I could post it here, but it was rainy as hell and I was mainly focused on getting to my car without having my blow out morph into an unruly mass of ringlets and waves.

(Eh, I shouldn’t say that. I love the rain. I love walking in the rain. Hair be damned.)

1PP is on the left, and 2PP is on the right.

Anyway, we’re sitting inside, drinking coffee and eating brownies after our last meeting of the day. My boss is big on that sort of thing – whenever we are in the city, whenever we had a stressful day, whenever we win something that we thought had a snowball’s chance in hell, he likes to just stop everything afterward and sit down for a leisurely meal or coffee with dessert, and some pleasant, relaxed conversation. It’s a great way to kind of “come down” when adrenaline’s high and your nerves are starting to get frazzled. It’s a very useful de-stressing technique.

Hell, it was what we did after we got screamed at by an Article III judge, but that’s a blog post for another time.

Anyway.

We have office space at 2PP, even though our main offices are elsewhere, because since we do so much work in Cook County and on the federal level, it’s sometimes easier for clients to meet us in the Loop rather than coming to Olympia Fields, the burb where we’re actually located most of the time.

My boss is very sensitive to my commute, so if we have client meetings in the city and he doesn’t think it’s absolutely necessary for me to be there, he tells me not to bother, and that it’s fine. Not that I mind one way or another – it’s just about a better use of our resources, and where my time would be best spent.

But on the 3rd we both had things to do downtown, and then at the end of the day we had a client meeting at 2PP, so it made sense for me to be there once I’d wrapped up what I was doing.

So I plugged the address into my GPS and drove over there, and I’m kind of a newb when it comes to downtown Chicago, even though we moved to the burbs of Chicago when I was 10, back in 1996, and I spent three years in the Loop during law school, so you’d think I’d have a handle on this, but I don’t.

I have NO CLUE about anything having to do with geography as it relates to Chicago. You can spit neighborhood names at me – Andersonville, Humboldt Park, Hyde Park, Chatham, Washington Park, and none of it will mean anything to me except in terms of “will I be raped/murdered there?”

(No, seriously, whenever I have to go anywhere, including but not limited to downtown Chicago, I text @BobBlahBlawg the address and ask him if I’ll be raped there. I’m not even joking a little bit. He’s basically my most street-smart friend, anyway, and isn’t that just a little sad?)

So I plugged in the address and my GPS took me there and as soon as I saw the actual building, I just stopped. And laughed. And laughed and laughed and laughed.

Here’s the story I told my boss when I explained this.

It was December of 2011. I was six months out of law school. I had opted, for personal reasons, not to take the July bar, so I was taking the Bar for the first time in February of 2012 (I was sworn in in May 2012).

But it was December, and I was six months out and having no luck with job applications or internships or whatever else I was up to at the time. It was a shit economy for lawyers – still is, obviously – and I was feeling pretty discouraged and hopeless.

A Twitter friend of mine, who was a law student up in Minnesota at the time, was in Chicago visiting some friends, so we decided to meet up. She wanted to go to Giordano’s for a deep dish pizza, so we met up at the one in Prudential Plaza. It was a cold but cheerful night, and I schlepped into the city to meet this friend for the first time.

I found some street parking on Stetson, paid, and hurried into the restaurant, trying not to look up at the skyscrapers. In law school, I was surrounded by federal buildings and skyscrapers and both of them had taken root in my mind as Places Filled With Successful Lawyers, so basically the anti-thesis of everything I was at that point in my life. Looking up at skyscrapers when I was walking around downtown always made me sad, so I just avoided it, and pretended every building I passed was three stories tall at the most.

Three-story buildings aren’t all that arrogant and over-achieving, you see.

We had a lovely meal, and getting to know my Twitter friend boosted my spirits. She’s warm and friendly and fun and says what’s on her mind (her first words when seeing me walk in were “OMG GET OUT YOU ARE SO TINY!”), and the food was good, even though I much prefer Exchequer’s deep dish to Giordano’s. It was a nice, warm, glowing little interlude on a dark, cold night, and I almost forgot about my inferiority hang-ups for a while.

But during the meal, as she told me about all the things she was up to in 1L and I haltingly told her about some of my difficulties after graduation, I was conscious of a slow, simmering jealousy. Jealousy due to the fact that she was still a 1L with two years of security before she stepped out into the Real World, and I was out in the Real World and floundering. Badly.

But I pushed that aside, as I have a way of ruthlessly pushing aside most of my unpleasant thoughts, and brightly suggested that, since the night was still young, we find a cool bar and order desserts or coffee or whatever and listen to some live music.

We bundled up and headed out. Nights in downtown Chicago are spectacular, especially in winter. It’s so dark and cold but the Loop and the surrounding areas are alive with lights and noise and movement. It’s wonderful.

I remember being on the phone with @BobBlahBlawg, having him tell me which bar we should hit up because (1) my Chicago geography sucks and (2) as a tee-totaling Muslim girl, I don’t exactly frequent a wide variety of bars. Although I do have a couple pubs that I just love to bunker down in.

We passed 2PP, that giant skyscraper. My friend was walking next to me, happily chattering, and I was on the phone with @BobBlahBlawg. And I broke my rule: I looked up at that giant skyscraper.

All I remember was that it was shiny. It was as dark as the night sky, but it still stood out somehow because it was so damn shiny. Which I know doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but if you come to this blog looking for things that make sense, I really don’t know what to tell you.

We got to my car, parked right outside the health club on Stetson, got in, and headed over to what was actually a really fun, cute little Hipster Lite bar. But not before I passed 2PP again, looked up once more, and thought, It would be so nice to be an attorney and to walk into that building and have work to do there.

And fast forward to July of 2013, and I’m once again parking on Stetson and trotting down the sidewalk in my heels and a slightly askew skirt-suit, anxious to check in with the front desk and get up to my meeting on the 35th floor.

SubhanAllah, I really just can’t even explain the feeling. It’s why I was almost late – because I stood outside of 180 N. Stetson, aka 2 Prudential Plaza, basically cackling at how my most random little dreams have such a strange way of coming true.

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