I never became a scientist, or the astronaut I was jonesing to be after watching the launches on the tee vee as a kid. All because of a very very idiotically dumb reason: none of the cool kids were doing it.
Fast forward thirty years to the last launch...and I'm working in an office...and all the cool kids? I don't actually know what they do...they are not so much with the sharing on their Facebook profiles...but me? Not so much the happy.
I've tried being a bookseller, library person, teacher, sailor, roustabout, and now playing with numbers...and yet...I just don't have the same excitement as I did as a kid about playing with rockets.
I still remember helping this kid, Chris; we were going to design and build a rocket out of whatever bits and pieces we had at our fingertips in the classroom. I was so excited to have someone who was equally interested in something like this that I lost myself in it...until I was harshly jarred back to the reality of the middle school years by Chris' cousin (?) Marina, "Why are you doing that? Do you think Chris is like, cute or something? You do don't you!!!" (Fill in the rest with so many taunts and laughter that I literally backed away, got to my desk, and, yeah, kinda just gave up.)
Cuz it's all about the boyz during those years, right? And Chris? Gangling, skinny, buck-toothed? Yep, so totally hot, right? And the only reason I'd want to hang out with him was because of that hotness, right? Is it any wonder I once wished, maybe out loud in front of another boy, that I had been born a boy? (Which, yes, then spread the rumor that I was a total freak...add teh glasses and braces and you can just tell how popular I was in school...)
All this was going through my head during the constantly delayed countdown. So maybe when the shuttle finally took off...the tears (yeah, I might have gotten a little snifflely) weren't all about the 135th and final launching of the Space Shuttle...
I feel like I'm preaching to the choir here, because if you're reading this I'll bet you already let your kids be as geeky as they want to be. You're already telling them they can be anything they want to be when they grow up, no matter how crazy you think it is. And NOT telling them they're crazy for wanting to be something just because you don't ever see yourself doing it. I had to swim through an ocean of negativity to get to where I am today; which is only an island maybe halfway to shore....maybe more. I certainly would never wish it on any of the children I know and love today. It's too hard a road to travel sometimes.
I know I'm a dork, a weirdo, a geek. I've have 37 years to realize, reject, then embrace myself all by myself. I sometimes wish I'd had someone equally geeky to let me know earlier that it was okay to be me. That I wasn't full on strange girl for wanting to figure out how to take apart alarm locks and put them back together, for being interested in how engines work and why things happen the way they do. I think...no, I know I would have been a completely different person today. Maybe even sitting in front of a big screen at Cape Canaveral; facing pending unemployment in uncertain economic times, of course...but dude! What a ride it would have been!