I never thought I’d say this. But after four years of being with us, it looks like Missy has embraced her inner geek.
Mind you, there are a lot of sides to Missy. More, perhaps, than a newcomer might realize. It’s easy to see the warm smile and note the physical and mental disabilities that have shaped her life. But if you spend even a short time with her, the many Missys beneath the surface begin to emerge.
There’s Missy the Jock, who lives for her weekly swim, her summer softball and any chance to hit the bowling alley. (“I wan’ go bowling!”)
There’s Missy the Prom Princess, who loves gorgeous dresses and hours of dancing to the loudest music she can find.
I’ve met Missy the Artist, who painted up a storm during the 2013 flood, Missy the Socialite who knows half the city and has never forgotten a face, even Missy the Flirt, who can pick out a new male friend within five minutes of entering a gathering, greeting him with wide eyes and a big “Hi!”
By contrast, Missy the Geek is much more recent.
I probably should have recognized the signs much sooner. After all, I’m of the tribe. I was a Tolkien fan by third grade, a D&D gamer by fourth, and by high school, you could have picked me out of a Where’s Waldo lineup or a Hollywood casting call. (“Pipe cleaner body, thick glasses, 300 books in his arms … ok, we can check ‘school nerd’ off the list.”)
Even so, it took a little while for me to realize that I suddenly had an apprentice.
Weekend trips would include forcible pointing at the game store, so she could get a new Pathfinder game book and pore over the lavish illustrations. Oh, and some sparkly dice, please.
A fascinated viewing of “The Empire Strikes Back” one day drew demands to watch Star Wars again – and an equal fascination with the other movies in the series. (Though even she got a little impatient with Episode I.)
And of course, there’s her entrancement with Harry Potter – the first bedtime reading that she ever pushed to repeat, and her favorite Halloween costume ever.
It’s been amazing for my wife and I to watch. And a little humbling. Because I don’t think it’s entirely an accident that Missy is becoming enthralled with this brave new world, even in a country where so many seem to be doing the same.
In fact, if you’ll forgive the brief descent into the world of the cool, it’s something Misters Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young reminded us of long ago: “Feed them on your dreams … the one they pick’s the one you’ll know by.”
Whether it’s wards with guardians, kids with parents, or friends with friends, you respond to what you see. And if you see them love something, it’s the most natural thing in the world to try it out.
As you do, you start to become what you love.
I’ve seen it in my own life. When we grew up, my sisters and I saw my parents constantly reading. Today, we could become branches of the Library of Congress – and could probably use its book budget, at that. Their lives became a model for ours.
I don’t mean to make it sound like an imposition or a brainwashing. More of a discovery. In trying new things, you always discover a little more of who you are. And if those things also belong to someone you care for, you discover a little more of what you share.
It’s a way of weaving a family. With or without actual kinship. To see it happen with Missy makes me realize how truly close we have all become.
One more face. One more strand of the heart. One more piece of love made manifest.
Right now, being a geek feels pretty cool.