Thursday, December 15, 2011

Divergence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

In high school, I didn’t worry much about boys.  For three years, my heart belonged to my one love, Math.  Freshman year we were best friends—I loved Geometry.  By sophomore year we were going steady, I had two semesters back-to-back.  Junior year, our relationship reached a peak.  AP Calculus opened my eyes and mind to all kinds of new concepts and processes and I was head over heels.  Nothing could come between us.  But as is often the case, things went downhill after that.  We didn’t see each other all summer, and senior year I didn’t even have a math class.  We both agreed that perhaps we just needed some space and started seeing other people.  I was the editor of the school newspaper.  I learned Spanish, played saxophone, participated in two art shows, and Math wasn’t really a part of my life.  I never even spoke to his best friend, Science.  From time to time, I still found myself daydreaming about him and my doodles in various notebooks sometimes strayed back to my forgotten love.  For the most part, though, we had gone our separate ways.

I did see him twice, briefly, each time I took the SAT.  But it wasn’t really the Math I had loved so deeply the year before, it was a easier-going, lighthearted friend, and although we got along fine, it wasn’t enough to rekindle the fire we’d shared.  They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I’m not sure.  I pursued other loves, never forgetting that I was good at math, and perhaps thinking I could simply return to him when I was done flitting about—when I started college for engineering.

When we did meet again in August, our reunion was not a happy one.  I had changed; he had changed.  I found that going so long apart meant I didn’t really know him anymore, and no matter how hard I fought, he wasn’t going to become the Math I’d known and loved more than a year ago in high school.  I didn’t want to work for a relationship that had come so easily to me before.  But I didn’t want to lose it, because although being with him was painful, it reminded me of the connection we’d shared.

I was having an identity crisis of sorts, because our relationship had been a vital part of who I was.  Even in elementary and middle school, we would flirt vociferously, letting others gaze in envy at our obvious compatibility.  Now, he was refusing to take me back, and I was refusing to accept that.  So we argued and fought and yelled and went long periods without speaking.  But we also shared moments of love, like when I scored an A on the third test of the semester.  We were growing together again, and it wasn’t easy, but it was happening.

Finally, on the last day of the semester, something magical happened.  We had just learned about Lagrange multipliers (an explanation which I will spare you), and been charged with solving the example problem.  I looked at the problem, drew a logical conclusion based on fundamental understandings, and raised my hand.  The teacher said that I could have been right, but he wasn’t going to go through the rest of the problem because it was too complicated.  But I had found another way to solve it—a way that made sense.  I was right, and I was going to make him understand.  So I stayed after class and made my case.  He applauded me, and said that what I had done was exactly what Lagrange multipliers were all about.  I had butterflies in my stomach, and they carried me all the way across campus after that.  I had done it—it took all semester, but my lost love was mine once again.  I took the final for that course yesterday, and I feel good about it.  It was challenging, of course, but in the best possible way.  I would even dare to say I enjoyed it.  What I really enjoy, though, is having my old friend back.


  1. Math? I find the written word to be a much more considerate lover than cold, meticulous math. Prose before hoes.

  2. @Addman - OBVIOUSLY I have a healthy love of writing as well, and I see where you're coming from. Math can be difficult to get along with.

    @Burns - Thanks bro

  3. Great to read and know. Sweetly the way to re-join with beloved. So cool. Thank you.

  4. Aww, nicest love story ever and may you live happily ever after. :)

  5. Thanks guys, glad you like it :D

  6. Raz, you seem to be one amazing person. You did all kinds of things in high school, didn't you? Haha. Well I'm happy that you rekindled your lost love for math. I understand the struggle. When I was a junior in high school, I enjoyed math. People knew I was good at Trigonometry, but for some reason my math skills kinda fell off in college and I couldn't recover it, and last semester I almost failed my math course (Differential Calculus). I applaud you, too, for proving your case to your professor. It's gotta take guts to do that. =] I'm taking a Quantum Mechanics course this semester and I encountered Lagrangian multipliers and operators. They're quite fun. =D

    Awesome writing. =]

  7. Wow, Oliver, thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed the story, and I'm glad you enjoy math! Quantum Mechanics sounds as scary as it does fun. I do feel like part of my issue was that in high school with all these people I knew, I had a reputation as the math kid and there was a sort of pressure to do well that came with that. In college surrounded by strangers, that pressure was gone and I had to re-learn how to do math simply because I enjoyed it.