Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I'm still on the Moon

Still thinking about the Apollo program.

I'm reminded of a class that Karen and I taught. A grade 6, 7 and 8 girl's self defense class. Chaos in action.

Given that we were the teachers there's always the students who really think you're cool and want to hang out in the breaks and so there is one of the girls telling me about this truly cool movie she and her best friends have seen over the weekend. Not current run, a couple of years old. She's telling me about it and I realize she's talking about Tom Hanks and the movie is Apollo Thirteen.

I'm nodding and taking it in and as she pauses I, figuring I'm going to insert some interest in the conversation say, "Yeah. That is a good movie. When it happened though, we didn't have video feeds or any kind of TV contact, all we had was radio and we could hear them. I had the radio on the whole time. We really were afraid they'd miss the earth coming back." Her eyes are getting more and more round at this point and I continue. "It was one heck of a tense time."

She gulps and whispers "You mean it really happened?"

"Yes, it happened." Karen throws in her two cents... "It was big news, even if people didn't approve of that part of the space program."

"The Apollo Moon program. They never landed on the moon and almost didn't make it home. We were afraid we'd lost them..." I'm now talking to her back as she runs over to her friends.

Wildly gesturing arms, girls getting that same wide eye'd look, peeking out of the crowd as if I'd suddenly sprouted antenna. The whole rest of the class... the story spread... a wave of change. This cool movie had suddenly become history. Reality.

And I'm standing there, flat-foot. People have forgotten this? Already? This is MY memory. I saw this. I heard this. I'm still alive and people have forgotten? Something so important? The first time we truly went to another planet, our co-planet. Duct-tape and illness and sweat and deaths, though no one died on this launch. New computing power and discovering a hundred new ways of looking at the world and the universe and it's forgotten? It's just this cool movie someone made; a fantasy like Star Trek or Star Wars?

We had to repeat the story a few more times as various girls came to ask for confirmation. But we didn't say anything else. I wonder sometimes if we should have, but we were only supposed to teach self defense. We taught a bit more that day.

I sometimes wonder if it had any effect.

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