37 Years Ago Today

“But the Eagle has landed; tell your children when
Time won’t drive us down to dust again.”

— Leslie Fish, Hope Eyrie

One of the most embarrassing things which ever happened to me was falling asleep for the 90 or so seconds surrounding one small step.

I was seven years old and living in middle-class Matawan, New Jersey. A precocious child, I’d been hard-bitten by the space-and-science-fiction bug; 2001 had blown my wee mind the previous year and infected me with star-pricked visions of silver and flame. There was NO WAY I wasn’t staying up to “watch those guys walk on the moon,” as I so often and loudly put it. My parents were pretty cool with the idea, and as the hour approached we ate McBurgers picnic-style on the living room floor.

The last thing I remember, Neil Armstrong was opening the Eagle’s metal mouth.

The next thing I remember, my mom was shaking me awake. “Honey! You missed it!” she said.

I think I cried for a week. (The trauma has leached from my mind the exact duration.) But ever since, whenever I look up at the moon (which is often) my eye automatically lands on the Sea of Tranquility.

“That’s where we first touched you,” I say to myself (and anyone within earshot).

Since then, albeit with with robot fingertips, we’ve touched Mars, Saturn’s moon Titan and the asteroid Hayabusa ; we’ve grabbed bits of the Sun, crossed its outermost echo and even marked a comet. And, please God, we’re just getting started.

Homo sapiens explorator. Cheers, mate.

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