Its not easy being geek.
I learned that at a very young age when my preschool class at the museum was two girls and twelve boys… it might have been all the time learning the names of various dinosaurs and reptiles that fascinated me so.. I further fleshed it out when most of my elementary school Girl Scout friends were more interested in Barbie clothes than Star Wars. In junior high, I was more comfortable in the computer lab talking programming languages with the boys than in the lunchroom talking about boys with the girls. In high school, I gravitated towards the Whiz Quiz team and other cerebral activities, not so much because I was good at them, but because I was comfortable there. And by college, while I’d learned how to balance my geek pursuits with a first impression view what outsiders consider “normal”, I was always happiest around the people who let me be just a tiny bit weird.
Yes, I’m a geek. And in adulthood, I found my people in the world of other aviation enthusiasts. AvGeeks as they call themselves.
#AvGeek – that’s me.
There are many variants of AvGeeks. Some are pilots. Some are obsessed with the technical specifications of the planes. Some like to meticulously record the statistical details of every flight they take (tail number, pushback time, takeoff time, cruising altitude, etc.) Some take photos of every detail. And some, like me, just like the feeling of being up in the air.
But I also love the friendships. Ask any young adult and they’ll tell you that one of the biggest realities post-college is how much more difficult it is to make friends in those years that follow. You have to find your people – and mine are the ones who share my sense of wanderlust and the feeling that stepping onto the jetbridge is like walking through the portal of a magical adventure every time. (That love for it is probably also how I’ve stayed sane through 16 years of heavy business travel!)
So Thursday’s inaugural flight undoubtedly meant something different for me than it did for other AvGeeks. For many of them, it was the chance to be “first”. I missed that… I was in New York on Wednesday rendering it impossible to get home for that true first flight. But I snapped up the chance to be on the flip side of the inaugural (the first ORD-DFW flight) because I wanted to be with my people.
No – I wanted to be with my friends.
The people who do these things – take inaugural flights, participate in drawn out internet discussions about wing flaps and seat configurations, who fly across the country just to have the chance to climb around a brand-new airplane – those people GET me. Without pretense, without judgment – they UNDERSTAND. And it’s why I’m more likely to forage new relationships with people who don’t think my love of this is weird. I’m going to prioritize my time for those who accept my geekiness (even if it maybe isn’t their own cup of tea) and allow me to be me.
And so (by way of explanation), that’s why I was too busy standing at the gate in Chicago, hugging people coming off the first flight on Thursday morning, to have taken many photos.
Its why I juggled my work day (starting at 4 am and finishing at midnight) so I could carve out a couple of hours to socialize in the Admirals Club and spend part of the return flight hanging out in the business class aisle gabbing with friends.
And its why while plenty of other bloggers have brought you these extremely detailed reports on the inaugural flights with tons of photos, you’ll have to settle for my preview from last Wednesday night in a hangar at DFW, because I was too busy being an “enthusiast” to be a “blogger”. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Its not easy being geek. But it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
(If you read all this and are thinking “damn Jen, I really want a review of the plane”, check out my dear friend Andy’s review of the plane, complete with his amazing photos! I’ll share a few more 787 thoughts in the coming days, but that should hold you over!)