Grief, ‘Legally Blonde’ and law school

Castleton student Emma Dornburgh, right, as a child with her grandmother.

The summer before my senior year of high school, my uncle died. A couple months later, four days after my birthday, my grandma died. 

Then my great grandma.

And my other great grandma.

It finished off with my grandpa last September.

Before this point, I hadn’t really lost anyone close enough to me to really feel it but 

having lost my grandma, whom I was really close with, and then even more of my family, I just felt like my world was just little set pieces in a jar of water and someone had decided it was time to shake my little jar until nothing was right anymore. 

I felt completely lost and I didn’t really know who I was anymore. The only piece of me that made sense was my grief. 

My choice in major coming to Castleton was based solely on the fact that I liked making movies as a kid and tried to make a movie for my senior project. It’s definitely not personal to me to choose a path for yourself and immediately realize you were wrong. Not that I don’t like the idea of making movies. I went for it for a reason. 

After my grandpa died, I just kind of realized how lost I felt in the world. Maybe that’s just being 19. I wouldn’t know, I’ve only been this old for a few months. 

I do know that after finishing “Breaking Bad” I just really needed to watch something where I wasn’t going to be angry at circumstances out of my control, whether it’s the natural cycle of life or an intentionally aggravating character. 

He could’ve just not cooked meth. It’s that simple.

I settled on “Legally Blonde” as my movie of choice. It’s been a favorite of mine for a long time. I love the colors and Reese Witherspoon and most of all I loved that Elle Woods did exactly what she set her mind to.

Her perfect little jar of water got shaken up and she still found her path.

I was in the comfort of my dorm, still suffering in the heat and upset at my artic cooler, 

which promised cool air that it hadn’t delivered thus far. I found myself stuck to my bed that afternoon like usual. 

The intro to this movie is something I know by heart. The mesmerizing shot of Elle brushing through her hair and the pink title that sits in front of it. The song “Perfect Day.” A bicycle that carries a sparkly envelope addressed to Elle, a heart locket, frats and sororities, perfectly painted nails, blonde hair dye, and girls everywhere. 

Watching Elle Woods go on this journey of proving that she is so much more than what people reduce her to and finding passion for something that wasn’t even in her life plan just 

made something click inside my brain. As I watched Elle deliver her graduation speech, it was clearer to me than it ever was what I needed to do with my life. 

Did you know in the original ending of Legally Blonde, Vivian and Elle were going to be together? I learned that over winter break after watching the movie again. 

I’ll always be mad that ending got scrapped. 

When the credits rolled, I had closed the tab and gone straight to Google, typing so fast the sound of my keys clicking was so much louder than it should be. 

It is, in fact, possible to go to law school with any major as long as it’s a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college, if you didn’t know. 

“You’ll be a prosecutor right?” 

That’s what my dad had said to me when I told him. My dad’s a cop, so you can see what the thought process is. 

We were driving out of Rutland to get home talking about my decision to pursue law school after college. It was kind of foggy that day.

Everyone else in my life seemed so unsurprised by my choice, which didn’t make sense to me because I was surprised. But I feel confident about my choices. 

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