Friday, May 17, 2013

A sense of occasion is a wonderful thing

Right after I graduated from law school I had a job a large law firm in New York and one of the things about large New York law firms is that along with the regular legal nerds there are always some super interesting and memorable people. I'm still quite close with several of the "kids" who were in my starting class; two of them are among my closest friends on earth and know me at least as well as I know myself. Like pledges or plebs, junior associates bond with each other.

The day the New York state bar results came out was one I'll remember forever. Administered in July, the test results came out in early November. Ours was one of the first groups to have their results released online  and few of us had internet access at home, so my fellow first years and I decided that we'd all work until whenever that day and then convene at an Irish bar in Mid-town Manhattan, where we'd drink until 11:45, then scurry back to the office to check the results at midnight. 

The anticipation was so intense that the drinks could barely blunt our anxiety and fear! But at the appointed time we made our way back to 30 Rock (of yeah, our offices were in that amazing and historic building) and to our respective offices, spread out between the 32nd and 37th floors. And we logged in. 

Holy Mary mother of God, the connection was soooooo sloooooooooowwww! But as we started to call each other and run about the hallways we found out that the news was good. We'd passed!  And so back to (a fancier) bar for more celebrating and then, very early that morning, we all crawled home, happy, proud and most of all, relieved.

The next morning we all showed up to the office and were greeted with smiles and "Congratulations!" from the receptionists, the partners and our secretaries (the thing about NY is that the bar results are published in a trade paper that EVERYONE reads, so the whole firm know your business when you come to work that day). It was so nice!

My coworker Adam had a mentor named Veronique. She was a bit older than I was (and much younger than I am now) and as a Francophone Swiss woman from Zurich seemed to me to be impossibly sophisticated. When she learned Adam had passed the bar, she was genuinely happy and in recognition of his accomplishment, congratulated him with a bottle of champagne. Veuve Clicquot if memory serves. So thoughtful!

I will never forget the moment be then classmate now dear friend Angela told me about that. I was so impressed, and Angela said "Veronique has such a sense of occasion."

A sense of occasion.

What a wonderful thing.

I've thought a lot about that gesture and the expression used to describe it over the years. An understanding that some moments are special and deserve to be commemorated and set apart from others. I like it.

The next year, when I was a mentor to someone who passed the bar, I thought of Veronique and her gesture and bought my mentee a celebratory bottle of champagne. She'd earned it! And she was so tickled.

In the intervening years I've bought champagne, made cakes and made parties for people I love to commemorate their joyous moments. Because they've deserved it! And I love them! Their accomplishments, their milestones, their efforts and dreams. These things deserve to be acknowledged, commemorated, celebrated.

These things are occasions, and they're wonderful.

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