After the interview, the rest of the day passed in a blur. I met briefly with Judge Stinson’s current clerks, just to say hello and to introduce myself to them as one of their successors. The Stinson clerks seemed friendly and enthusiastic about their jobs, and as is often the case with clerks to the same judge, I had several connections in common with them.
One of the current clerks, Michael Nomellini, also graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School (where he served as president of the Federalist Society, a group of conservative and libertarian law students). Another clerk, Janet Lee, was an Asian-American woman from New York City who graduated from Stuyvesant, my high school alma mater. Even though I hadn’t met Michael or Janet before, we played the “name game” and quickly discovered we had several mutual friends. Both Michael and Janet gave me their email addresses and phone numbers and told me to contact them with any questions that might come up before the start of my clerkship.
When I was done speaking with the clerks, I called Pervez, who was still in the area, and he drove me back to the airport. The ride to LAX took longer than the ride from LAX, thanks to traffic from an accident on the Pasadena Freeway (which he called “the 110”; using the definite article in front of highway numbers seemed like a West Coast thing). But I didn’t mind the longer drive, and Pervez didn’t seem to either. I was still on a high coming off the interview, Pervez was in good spirits too, and we chatted cheerfully the entire way.
At the end of the ride, he made me promise that I would get in touch upon returning to Pasadena to start my clerkship. I did so — and I knew I would keep my promise, not just because I try to keep my word, but because I would need help getting around, at least until I got a car and a California driver’s license. (The passing thought that I would have to buy a car and learn how to drive stressed me out briefly, but I pushed it out of my mind; I told myself I was entitled to a brief worry-free period, having just landed an amazing job — and one that, if I excelled in it, could help me obtain an even more amazing job.)
Now I was back in New Haven, after a wondrous day in sun-splashed L.A. And even being back in New Haven — chill and gray, even though it was only early September — couldn’t bring me down. I imagined that this is what it must feel like to be a manic depressive during a manic phase. When I thought about my future legal career, full of possibility, power, and prestige, I felt giddy, almost drunk.
But I wasn’t drunk. I was nursing a small coffee, the cheapest beverage on the menu, while sitting by the window at the Willoughby’s coffee shop — the one on Church Street, not the hipster-infested one on York Street by the architecture school — and waiting for Jeremy to arrive, so we could reveal to each other how our clerkship interviews had turned out. We could have told each other earlier, by phone or text message or email, but we decided (through texts) that this was best done in person, given how important it was to both of us. It was like sharing the news of your engagement with close friends: you’d tell them in person before announcing it on Facebook (assuming you mentioned it on Facebook at all).
(Speaking of Facebook, neither of us had revealed the outcome of our clerkship hunts on that website or on any other social network. Facebook was the only one we belonged to, and Jeremy and I were mere “lurkers”: we used the site to keep up with others, but we rarely posted anything about ourselves. Anyone who aspired to appointive or elective office — i.e., law students at top schools around the country — knew that being hyperactive on Facebook (to say nothing of a more public site like Twitter) was a recipe for trouble down the road. It would mean more material to turn over to a White House vetting team, and more grist for the confirmation mill. If judicial nominees could be interrogated about ancient scribblings for their college newspaper, then anything was fair game.)
As I waited for Jeremy, I tried to talk myself down from my euphoric state. Judge Stinson was my first choice among all the judges who had contacted me for interviews (which reminded me: I needed to call all the others to withdraw my applications). But what if Jeremy wasn’t similarly happy with the clerkship he had landed? It would be in poor taste for me to be rejoicing if Jeremy wasn’t pleased with how his own search had turned out.
I assumed Jeremy had landed a clerkship with one of the judges he interviewed with. His text message — “lets meet up at willoughbys to talk clerkships — tmrw at 2 pm?” — suggested he had something to report. But it was theoretically possible he had been dinged by all his judges and wanted a shoulder to cry on.
So I continued my effort to repress my elation. But it wasn’t easy. When you’re happy, you’re happy.