Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Endeavour Flyouver

When I was a little boy, I wanted nothing more than to be an astronaut.  I planned to be a fighter pilot, I studied the diagrams of the (then unbuilt) space shuttle, I waited.  Eventually, they finished the shuttle, and I couldn’t have been more delighted.

Guess which one is me.
First, came the test shuttle, which was designed to practice landing.  Originally to be named The Constitution, Trekkies wrote in from all over and convinced President Ford to name it Enterprise.  As amused as I was by this concept (and that the Enterprise in Star Trek was a “constitution class” starship), I thought it was a stupid move.  Why?  Because it was the only shuttle that never went into space.

But I digress.  My vision deteriorated as I grew, and I had to accept I would never be an astronaut, but my love of space never diminished.  I watched the (by today’s standards) pathetic shows of “Buck Rogers” and “Battlestar Galactica” and dreamed of space.  Years later, when I visited the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, I was horrified the space exhibit was hidden in a back room.

When they ended the shuttle program, to be replaced by unmanned craft, I was (understandably) upset.  Space travel seems destined for robots, while we humans crawl around like worms, fighting over meaningless ideologies while our world becomes increasingly uninhabitable.

On Friday, one of the last space shuttles was loaded on to the back of an airplane and flown around California.  It flew right over my home city.  As hundreds of Bay Area residents stood on street corners, hoping for a look, hundreds more drivers pulled over, thinking it was a day laborer discount event.  Beautiful photographs flooded the internet.
Doesn't get any sexier than that.
And I missed the whole fucking thing.  While the shuttle flew overhead on its last flight ever, I drove to a doctor’s appointment for my son.

You give up a lot to have children.  It’s hard to find time to go see movies and friends.  Vacations become more about entertaining the kids than enjoying yourself.  From time to time, you miss out on once-in-a-lifetime events.  It’s a sacrifice I willingly make.

Still, damn.

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