The moment Mom walked through our front door, I jumped up and rushed to her. With her shoes still on and purse still hanging from her arm, I dragged her over to the 8-by-12 inch whiteboard hanging in the narrowest, most uncomfortable part of our kitchen. Letting go of her hand, I picked up my bright green expo marker and scribbled three concentric circles.
“So, when an object making sound travels faster than the speed of sound, the collision between wave fronts causes this thing called a sonic boom,” I squealed in excitement, redrawing the diagram to show the circles, each its own wave front, superposing.
Only a few minutes earlier, I was eating pizza at my kitchen table with my physics textbook wide open. As I gnawed away at my cheese slice, I flipped through special relativity, quantum mechanics, and particle physics.
To my left, Grandmother was sipping green tea and reading her daily prayers. Across the table, two of my siblings were arguing about who could do the better cartwheel. They laughed about peripheral details while my mind was flipping over nuclear behavior.
I heard the kettle on the stove begin to whistle and I imagined the water’s particle interactions and the heat transferring between the water and its surrounding material.
I heard an airplane overhead and I wondered about the turbulence that its wings created as it whipped through the air.
I saw the stars lighting up the sky through the window and I pondered the nature of light and its unreachable speed.
A singular sentence in my book made me zoom out from my reality as if I could see the entirety of the universe for just a split second. Each new sentence felt like a jolt of adrenaline, each new concept an adventure. The diagram of sonic boom on the corner of page 216 had materialized itself as a monumental concept, perfectly illustrating the feasibility of science.
I looked up at my mom for the first time since I’d started explaining. She rubbed her eyes, smudging her eyeliner.
“Leah, this is great, but I just got home. I’m very tired”
“But mom — ”
“Please, can we do this another time?”
She sighed and walked away, missing out on the intricacies of wave phenomena I was just about to share. I didn’t understand why what lit a fire in my mind didn’t seem to kindle my mother’s. All these concepts had been accumulating within me, and I yearned to share them with her, with someone.
For me, learning is euphoric. New information hits my bloodstream like a sugar high. It indulges not only my mind, but my entire presence. I crave to be surrounded by thrillingly complex concepts and hunger for an environment where my level of enthusiasm is reciprocated.
“So, when an object making sound travels faster than the speed of sound, the collision between wave fronts causes this thing called a sonic boom” I squeal in excitement. This time, my mom’s gaze is closely following my marker.
“Woah, this probably correlates with those unsolvable Navier-Stokes equations we talked about at dinner last night, right?,” my mom responds just as eagerly.
“Definitely!,” I answer, “because the strength of the sonic boom in the atmosphere would have to correlate with air pressure...”
When I pulled my mom to the whiteboard, I wanted her to respond like this.
But I had forgotten her long day at work, her indifference to asymmetric circles, and her shoes that were still on her feet. It was okay that she did not share in my excitement, but I still wish that she’d been as transfixed as I was.
After she walked away, I wiped the board clean, sat back down at my kitchen table and turned to page 217. “Electromagnetism.”
Three pages in, I picked up my expo marker once again.
I don’t want anyone to miss out on this.