Unlike Jacinda Bennett, Jessica was not the first person in her family to get a degree higher than a bachelor’s, and unlike Shannon Roper, she was not the first lawyer in her family. Similarly to both of them, she was the first Harvard graduate her family had seen.
Jacinda had gone back home, to Atlanta, to a prosecutorial job she rode up to a bench position, and eventually a seat on appeals court for the Eleventh Circuit. Shannon had taken the associate route, just like Jessica, but in sports law, switching over to full-time agent less than a decade after their graduation, and eventually opening her own thriving, independent sports agency. Her business had a waiting list rumored to be three years long.
The three of them had nothing in common, not really. Jessica had far more in common with Lafayette Townsend, Jr., from Providence, Rhode Island: third generation Harvard with a mouth like a sailor, an affinity for rugby and other blood sports, and a love of German Expressionism. She had more in common with Gregg Marvin, practically from the sewers of Philly, to listen to him, who had a collection of jazz like nothing she’d ever seen in her life, could play the meanest game of poker available, and did not like to argue.
But for all that Jessica had been closer friends with other classmates, Jacinda, Shannon and she had floated together from time to time, just to feel a little bit less like the lone raisin floating on a sea of milk; as Jessica’s mother had commented the one time she’d come up to visit first year.
It wasn’t as though they’d planned to keep on doing so, but somehow, in the middle of her second year as an associate—the only female of her year, and one of only three non-whites—she broke and called both of them, asking if maybe they’d like to plan a weekend getaway, something central, say, Hiltonhead?
Before she knew what had happened, Jacinda, always good at the details, had their schedules coordinated and flights booked. They spent the weekend bitching about their jobs, drinking drinks that tasted too good for the amount of alcohol they contained, and breathing in the silence they always managed to sustain for each other. After that, it just sort of became tradition.
The year Jessica didn’t make partner at her firm—it being explained to her that she just didn’t fit into the culture of the firm; the culture being male and white—none of them yet had the money to do anything extravagant, but they’d upped their commitment to getting the hell away from everything and gone down to Oaxaca.
The year Shannon was sexually assaulted by one of her clients during a routine private consultation, they took a week and went to Atlantis, booking the Presidential Suite and ordering more room service than any of them could really eat. Jessica treated for most of it; by that time, she’d stolen a partner off her old firm and they’d started up Pearson Hardman, pulling in 3.5 million in their second year.
The year Jacinda began receiving death threats from a white supremacist group whose leader she’d sentenced to life imprisonment, they up and went to Thailand, where they could get a private bungalow right on the beach.
It never really changed anything. They all knew that wasn’t the point.
Occasionally, they met up with each other in the confines of their real lives. Shannon had a client playing in the NBA playoffs, so she sent tickets. Jessica suspected she didn’t even expect them to show—Jessica certainly hadn’t known if she’d be able to until the last minute—but they did, and spent the evening cheering for the visiting team, since that was the one making Shannon money.
Jessica and Shannon had found each other at the ceremony where Jacinda was granted an honorary public policy PhD by Berkeley, neither of them having even discussed with the other that they were planning to show.
Shannon and Jacinda showed up at the National Bar Association’s annual conference wherein Jessica was named chair of the women’s section.
They gravitated toward each other, but it was rare that they much kept in touch by a simple phone call, an email chain. Sometimes, though, after a meeting of the Senior Partners, when Jessica had the irritating feeling of being out of place at her own damn firm, she would create a conference call and open with, “Hi, honey. How was your day?”
One of them, or both, would laugh.