On Saturday, I took my eight year old to a chess tournament. Five chess matches, each scheduled for 50 minutes. She had three draws and two losses. We arrived at 8 AM and left after 5 PM. It was grueling.
But she adored it.
In between her matches, she ran around finding other people to play practice games with her, eager as a chipmunk with a watermelon seed. (Maybe you've never seen a chipmunk with a watermelon seed. trust me. It's enthusiasm.) When the tournament was over, she walked up and down the aisles looking for unusual chess sets, and then asking their owners to play her. Even though she did not play well, she was delighted.
I asked her later at dinner what her favorite part of the tournament had been. "THE WHOLE THING," she said.
I did not enjoy the tournament, but that's because I hate crowds, treasure Saturdays as my chance for solitude, and don't particularly enjoy chess. No other reason. But I loved seeing her light up like that. And from the moment we walked in the door, I was forcefully reminded of the boarding school I attended. The mix of people, the nerdy freedom, the intense devotion to an interest - this was the world of the math-and-science high school I lived at. I may not have enjoyed the chess, but I did enjoy the nostalgia.
And while I was sitting in a quiet corner of the Parents' Waiting Area, minding my own business, reading Sense and Sensibility, a coach from another team came over to make small talk.
"Have you been in television or movies?" he asked. "You look just like the woman who played Dr Weir on SG-1. I could have sworn that was you."
A happy child, a wave of nostalgia, and a nerdy come-on.
It was a full day.