Quitting the Bar, Twice

What the law taught me about faith

Somewhere around the last years of my drinking I decided to go to law school. It was not a very well thought-out plan. One night I was holding court in my usual loud-mouthed fashion on my barstool at Boston’s Beacon Hill Pub when someone remarked, "You ought to be a lawyer." At the time, I was so bereft of my own ideas, so starved for direction, that I took the chance comment of a virtual stranger and determined forthwith to build my life around it. Yes, I thought to myself, I should be a lawyer! I conveniently set aside the small facts that, in spite of a social service degree, I had never done any kind of work other than waitressing, that I was incapable of going without a drink for the eight or nine hours a regular job required, that I was not even sure what lawyers did.

Since my hangovers ruled out all possibility of commuting, I focused instead on the fortuitous circumstance that a law school was handily located just two blocks from my apartment. Once I was accepted—I applied to just that one place—I figured that, somewhere along the line, I’d have to study so hard I would naturally cut down on my drinking. Somewhere along the line I would be transformed from a person with a nervous system so sensitive that, when sober, merely being addressed by a fellow human being almost caused me to hyperventilate, into a bold, assertive, self-confident advocate for victims of racial oppression and gender...

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About the Author

Heather King, a previous contributor, lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in Notre Dame Magazine and other publications.