January 20th has become a special day to me over the past couple of years. Including this year, this date has shaped part of who I am and who I have become. So, for your reading pleasure, here is a little rundown of the past four January 20ths:
January 20, 2007, Israel: If anyone asks me about my experience in Israel, I always start out with the words “life changing,” not only because of my religious connection to the country finally being realized, but for the memories of who I was before and after this trip. Before this trip, I was coming out of a long relationship, and I really had no focus on who my true friends were and what I wanted to get out of college (in fact, I was not even declared as a government major yet). Coming out of this trip, I had a newfound passion for Judaism and for Jews and a true focus of what I wanted to do in the near and far future. In my high school years, Judaism and being friends with Jewish people had been completely ruined for me (i.e. my high school friendships, USY, Bergen County High School of Jewish Studies). I had no interest whatsoever in being apart of that scene. Coming back from Israel, I was refocused on the fact that I was proud of my heritage and realized that there are some pretty cool Jews out there. From that point on, I got involved with the Jewish community and by the time I left college, I pretty much had only religious Jews as friends (go figure). If someone would have told me five years ago who my closest friends would be, I would have called their bluff, and this reformation changed when I entered and left the Holy Land.
January 20, 2008, Italy: Whereas Israel changed who I was as a person, Italy reaffirmed who I was as a person. I loved my experiences in Italy and I came into that situation, not with the mindset I had in Israel (which was to look for a life changing experience that would actually shape the person who I would eventually become), but rather to maximize my “fun time” and just look for classic experiences that would further the lore of Mike (yeah, I said that). In Italy, I continued being a good student, but for the first time in my educational career, I combined it was a brash, loud mouthed personality that resulted in new friends, classic times, and a new mentor. Had I not had that life changing experience in Israel, I probably would not have been so open to going on this trip and creating lasting relationships and memories. But now, I had a new outlook on life, which was to work hard, play hard and be myself around people. Furthermore, I reaffirmed my Jewishness by going out of way to attend synagogue in Rome and Florence (can you say “hot Italian Jewish girls?”).
January 20, 2009, Washington, D.C.: I feel like Robert Langdon in the those Dan Brown novels with the way I’ve traveled the world and had classic experiences (but not near death ones) with the third one coming in Washington, D.C. But here, unlike the newest Dan Brown novel, it did not end in disappointment. If you haven’t read my blog from last year about this experience, click here. Working for CBS for the inauguration of Barack Obama was one of the coolest experiences in my life, and the things I saw and got to do, and the people I got to meet (hellllllooooo Oprah) is something that very few people outside of Katie Couric can say they’ve done. Being about 75 feet from Barack Obama and overlooking the Clintons, the Fords and the elder Bushes is something no one can take away from me and one of the most unique experiences. This entire experience made me more passionate than I was (with working on the Hill and dominating the government school in college) about the government. It was what drove me to law school and what still drives me today. I still get chills thinking about how lucky I was and the long hours I worked over that winter break. I also remember long underwear and no sleep.
January 20, 2010, New York City: Okay, this one is a tad depressing. I go from Israel, to Italy, to the inauguration, to… law school. Bummer. But in actuality, it really isn’t that bad. All four of these experiences have impacted who I am. Law school is just another chapter in my life. Granted, the work sucks. So does the long hours. And so does missing out on the Real World and Jersey Shore. But in the bigger picture, I chose to be here because I want to become a lawyer. It’s what keeps me going through the long hours of reading and studying and finals (and the grades that follow). The fact of the matter is, in two and a half years from this current date, I will be a law school graduate, which is pretty cool (it also means I could potentially be making enough money to buy lots of Playstation 3 games, which is actually the sole reason I decided to come to law school). And worse comes to worst, hopefully by the time I graduate the technology for time machines will be available so I could go back and enjoy better January 20ths.