For the past three years Richard and I have gone on a cruise – what I refer to among friends and relations as ‘Nerd Boat’, and what is, in real life, called JoCo Cruise Crazy.
We have attended three in a row and we loved it – although admittedly the reasons we went on the cruise had nothing whatsoever to do with the destinations (frankly, neither of us is into sunbathing, or shopping, or hot, humid climates) and more to do with the sense of community; the gathering of our own kind; the amazing friends we made that we looked forward to seeing each time. Over the past three years, I have arranged music for a ragtag bunch of recorder players for the talent show; watched amazing performances from people like Peter Sagal, Grant Imahara, Randall Munroe, and on and on. I cheered on the Fancy Pants competition. I took part in a human zen drum (directed by none other than Jonathan Coulton himself). I knit (and we wore) the most awesome Tardis fezzes. I played new (to me) games and toured a Star Wars museum on a tropical island and built crazy, nonsensical things out of legos while sailing on a boat, and danced and laughed and hung out with people from every walk of life who all shared something in common; who all ‘got’ each other without having anyone think what we love; what we do is weird or strange or not normal.
We are not going on the 2015 cruise.It’s been somewhat of a struggle to make it work financially every year and there are huge projects we need to tackle on our house, and there are other ways we would like to spend our money. But oh, it is hard not to feel wistful when I see my fellow Seamonkeys getting more and more excited as the date comes closer, or to see the list of the featured performers and know that I’m not going to be able to see them, or to know that there are friends I have only seen while on Nerd Boat that I am not going to get to see this time around.
When I saw that Wired had an article all about the 2014 cruise, I was excited. I started reading it, and while at first I thought, hey, this guy actually gets it.’ Okay, so he got a few points wrong, but that’s fine, it was his first time, and it’s a huge, crazy, amazing experience and it’s perfectly understandable he wouldn’t have all the details straight. But by the end, I just ended up feeling sorry for him. Here he was in the middle of a giant crowd of people in which, for once, he wouldn’t have to pretend to be someone he wasn’t, and yet he kept on pretending. Here he was, getting angry that people tease him and judge him, and yet I got the sense that he was sitting there, judging everyone else; all those people like me who were embracing wholeheartedly their nerdery; their shared enthusiasm for being with everyone else and taking part in, for want of a better term, nerd camp at sea, and it just left me feeling unsettled.
There are other Seamonkeys who have written about this, but I think this one covers why this article troubled me the best. I wish for the author that he figures out how to get out of his own way. Maybe Nerd Boat isn’t going to be his thing. But he clearly has a lot of issues to work through and I hope that eventually he finds a place where he can feel at home, the way Nerd Boat feels for every one of us Seamonkeys, no matter if we are sailing on the boat in 2015, or simply sailing in spirit, wishing we were there.
‘Tis the season for Holidailies.