My daughter is a genius.
Have you heard that our universe is one of an infinite number of universes? Some are almost like ours, but not quite exactly like ours. Others are so strange and fascinating that they are inconceivable. Parallel universes where we all exist, but a different string of events have led to an entirely different world than the one we live in.
Well, that was my daughter who discovered that. She is the world’s most renowned physicist.
Not too shabby, eh?
Let me tell you about her. I’ll start from the beginning.
Her mom and I grew up with pretty normal lives. We met at university while the professors were on strike. No class meant there was plenty of time for me to woo her with my famous spaghetti sauce paired with a glass of the finest boxed wine.
We graduated and followed the typical path of getting a job, finding a place to live, and starting a family. I went into finance after a few chats with my professor. The allure of money, travel, and prestige was enticing. Boy, did I get that wrong. Her mom is an academic, studying the effects of space flight on human biology. She is no doubt where my daughter got her smarts from.
Fast forward a couple of years, and there she was. Born on June 20, the summer solstice, at 10:27 PM, as the orange glow of the setting sun was trickling through the hospital windows.
Best. Day. Ever.
Those first two years were heavenly. She slept through the night; I don’t ever remember waking up groggy. Which was a blessing considering the warnings from other parents. Unfortunately, the terrible twos were most definitely real. She started Kindergarten when she was four and was already causing trouble. The teacher told us that she spent most of her day in the corner, facing the wall, wearing the dunce cap because she would rally the other kids in the class to be performers in her fantasy games and assign them roles where they would do her homework for her.
Coffee shot out of my nose when her teacher told me this. She was clever, just like her old man.
The moments I remember the most were our talks. As my daughter got older, we would go for walks around the neighbourhood each morning. She’s an early riser, and I wanted to be an early riser, so that time worked out for both of us. We would talk about anything and everything, but most of all, we talked about the universe.
Until my daughter was born, I never had anyone to talk to about the big, mind-melding questions of the universe. Her mom would always roll her eyes when I started to go on a tangent about the possibility of other intelligent life. She said they would probably zoom in, catch me playing a tune by slapping my belly, and decide against making contact.
When my daughter was around 15 years old, she started saying things that I could barely understand. She would explain to me how solar sails and fusion rockets could make interstellar travel possible. She would indulge me with the nuances of M-theory and string theory. I knew that this went farther than imagination for her. She was special.
As expected, most of her peers did not see something special. They saw an easy target. She would come home crying some days when the bullying was particularly brutal, but I always assured her that it had nothing to do with her. These other kids were upset because they couldn’t understand.
My daughter persevered through the bullshit that is high school, and we continued our walks right up until her first day of university.
After a year of enjoying her newfound freedom and “extracurriculars,” she told me she wanted to major in human resources. I was dumbfounded. She told me that it was the responsible choice. Many of her friends majored in it because their parents had good, stable jobs in the field.
At first, I got mad, but that didn’t help the situation. She locked herself in her room and said I was being a dick. Fair enough. I let her cool down before I knocked on the door. She let me enter but remained quiet. I apologized. She stayed quiet, lying on the bed, facing the other direction. I asked her to think about our walks and all the wondrous things we talked about.
She sat up, looked at me with wet eyes, and said, “Yeah, so what? That was just messing around.”
I laughed. I told her yes, of course, it was just messing around. For me. But for her, our philosophying was different. Her understanding was a gift. A light flickered in the corner of her eye.
“You really think I can do this, Dad?”, she asked.
I told her she had to. But she had to promise to take her father on the first interstellar space flight. Pinky swear.
She switched her classes around and enrolled in the physics program. The rest, they say, is history.
Sometimes, when I’m alone in the backyard, stars twinkling up above, I think about the multiverse and all the different versions of her.
I hope that the different versions of me were smart enough to believe in her.
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