It was 1986. I still remember that year. I don't remember specifics, but I can picture the TV turning on and President Reagan, in all his grandfather-i-ness, consoling America. The world, in ways. January 28th. Challenger. Teacher in Space. Frost-biting cold. Poor managerial decisions. Seven lives lost. More devastated.
Sure it did poor in the box office. Yes, I know. What kind of timing was the release based on? After all, it was only six months after the accident. Crazy. Still, suffice it to say that Space Camp may be credited with maintaining the "sexiness" of spaceflight among my generation. I am, by far, not the only one my age who is obsessed with the lackluster performance by now famous actors (Lea Thompson, Joaquin Phoenix, Kelly Preston, Tate Donovan...Oh and dare I forget Spielberg's wife Kate Capshaw). For those of us who were around the ages of 6-7 (just old enough to remember Challenger but not old enough to fully comprehend its impacts), the timing of this movie did nothing to detract our attention. We were mesmerized. Encapsulated. Swallowed up like a caterpillar in its cocoon. One day. Some day. We would be astronauts. We would sit on the moon. Fly through the heavens. Touch a cloud. Catch a star. Space Camp made it seem so real. So possible. Unrealistic...yet....inspiring.
And so we did. The few whose dreams were not simply dreams. We made it to NASA. And on Friday, we bade farewell to the one program we have had our entire lives. The one image we associate with NASA. On Friday, we buried our quest to fly aboard her tiny flight deck. We cherished the roar of launch. And we saluted her goodbye.
[Sap alert] Sigh. I am sappy. You know that. I know that. It's no secret. But, can I please tell you just how special last weekend was for me? Not only for closure to my life's dream but also for the friends with whom I spent that moment. And to share it with my new husband. [end sap...mostly] It was the joy and anticipation in him that refueled my fire. Not that my fire was ever unlit. I mean, let's just consider my fire eternal. But, I too, am victim to complacency. I have seen many rocket launches, including a few Shuttles. Maybe the reality of the "end" never hit me until I heard him tell others what this meant. It was his shock and awe that sent shivers up my spine. He never grew up wanting to be an astronaut. Or waiting feverishly by the tiny window in the Old TV room, anticipating the Earth's shadow crossing over the moon. Or spending nights in college on top of the hood of the car, gazing at the trail falling stars leave behind... Yet, he felt the bittersweet end just like all of us. It was Srin who said "We grew up with the Space Shuttle. I can't believe this is it." Me either, Hubs. Me either.
And so we gathered once again. Most of us having left Houston a decade after first starting our co-op tours. And we commemorated the dream. With Cocoa Beach and slap the bag. Two hours of sleep and too much laughter. With The Things and Happy Hour. And best of all, Wheezy's i-capture of it all.
Thank you Yo Mama's. It was real and spectacular.
Bini and Em
Laur, Me, and Tasch
Laura, Em, Bries, E-Booty, Tasch, Srin, and me
You may need those. We'll be 10 miles away...
Meet the Launch Virgins: E-Booty, Bries, Tasch, and Srin
First name The. Last name Beard. The Beard.
Are you surprised?