I hate losing nerds.
This nerd, in particular, is wonderful. Have you ever had one of those "just add water" friendships, where it feels as if almost as soon as you meet the person, your friendship is a natural extension of breathing? I'm lucky to have a few of those sorts of friendships, and this nerd and I have one. We'd floated around in the periphery of each others' orbits for a year or so, then boom, we actually had an opportunity to get to know each other, and suddenly, double boom, we're buddies. She's one of those nerds that goes on very specific learning kicks. For example, right now she's really into Fibonacci-esque mathematical patterns in nature. She rocks. I'm going to miss her, but now I've got an excuse to visit Kentucky, one of the few states I've never seen. I know when I visit, I'll be eating up all that is new, all that is culturally different from my experience, and my curiosity will have free, untethered rein.
At our last meeting, the botanical information consultant of the Los Angeles County Arboretum led us on a tour of useful and food-producing plants at the Arboretum. Through back trails and rarely visited corners, the man led us. We pushed branches of shrubs out of the way to shimmy through them, looking for ripe fruits hanging from the trees. On the walk, we chatted with each other, examining such issues as composting, which small-fruited guavas grow well in Altadena, and the power of writing. I couldn't ask for a better Saturday morning.
I believe that everyone has an inner nerd. Everyone wants to learn. I've taught students of all different kinds, and I have yet to meet a kid who doesn't want to learn. Sometimes, they don't know they want to learn. Sometimes, there are so many things going on in their lives that learning seems to be least important. Sometimes, they're so angry that they take that anger out on Opportunity. Sometimes, they're afraid of failing. Sometimes, afraid of succeeding.
But, they all have that little inner nerd burning up inside them, and sometimes I can access it, and sometimes I fail. Too often, I fail. When luck and prayer and hard work go may way, and I do tear through those layers and get to the tiny little information-gnome that has been hidden away for too long, I embrace it. I say, "Welcome to Nerdom. You're going to find it to be a fascinating place."