space

“You’re an idiot,” she muttered. “Screw you too,” I brilliantly retorted. What made me think it would be different out here, in the vast blackness between the stars? As if our troubles were attached to terra firma and would somehow dissipate in the eerie silence of space. No chance.

‘Wherever you go, there you are’ went the archaic expression. I remember hearing this in one of the mind-numbing lectures on ‘ancient wall art’ back at the university. Hah! University! And to think, we’ve still charted only about 2 percent of the galaxy, let alone the whole damn universe. But maybe those ancients were on to something after all, with their—what’d they call it again?—‘graffiti’ or ‘self-help’ or whatever it was.

“I can’t believe I’m stuck out here with you for, crap, like a millennia it feels like,” she lamented. “I knew it would be like this—even after millions of years of evolution, you men are still all the same: controlling, judgmental, and full of spite.” My comeback was almost preordained in its scope, albeit a bit more biting than I intended: “Yeah, and you women are a hell of a lot better, huh? Manipulative, moody, and utterly mad. You’ve come a long way too, baby.” Continue Reading

“Space: the final frontier.” 

How many were drawn here by this simple compelling sentiment? It’s amazing what a few words can do in terms of insinuating an idea into the culture. Even in the old reruns shown when I was a kid, the basic idea still resonated. spacebowSpace was the place where one could be bold, brave, adventurous, legendary. And still, with the benefit of my seven weeks here in the heavens so far, the picture requires more detail:

Space is mystical. For as long as humans gazed upward, the stars have beckoned, a flickering beacon of destiny forever calling us forth. Or something like that! But hey, putting aside my mediocre poetry skills, it does feel a bit like a Middle Earth fantasy excursion. Everything here has meaning, poignancy, depth.

Space is queer. Seriously: people (mostly men, until recently) living in super close quarters, colorful flashing lights everywhere, the ballet of zero-gravity floating, the symphony of the cosmos. Space is queer like how war is queer, when you think about it: fabulous uniforms and excellent choreography. Continue Reading

Space is cold, but she was always warm. The casual brushes of her body as she passed in the sterile corridors, the faint residuals of her breath in the recycled air, the lilting afterglow of her voice over the com. The flame streaks in her hair matched the fire in her eyes, and all of it radiated an evanescent glow amidst the icy vacuum.

cold spaceThe mission had been a frosty one since the blaze of the afterburn was extinguished nearly a year ago. Once escape velocity had been reached, we switched over to low-energy mode, subsisting on the diminishing rays of the sun as we careened purposefully toward a self-imposed oblivion. The fact that it was all seen as heroic by everyone and everything left behind only accentuated the emptiness.

But I won’t complain, at least not out loud. I chose this life, mostly for the chance to do something memorable and important, and to be a maker of history rather than a consumer of it. The stars beckoned, persuasively, and even though I would never technically get there in this lifetime, I would be part of the first wave of humans to achieve a proximate vantage point and to pave the way beyond. Continue Reading

“I…can…hardly…breathe.”

“It’s okay,” Sean reassured me. “Focus on the silence, feel it around you, let it keep you safe. One deep breath, then another. Good, keep going. Almost there,” he whispered.

spamed“Okay, thanks, I feel better.” This was the third time this month that I had a problem during the service, but so far only Sean knew about it. I guess that’s what best friends are for: protecting secrets.

It was hot in the power plant today, even more than usual. People think space is cold, but not in here. The whole ship is like a sweaty, tropical moisture bubble. It’s a good design, one that recirculates water (human-produced and otherwise) through the system all the time, and which makes it possible to grow food and plants everywhere on board. Like being in a floating greenhouse traveling at high velocities.

But the paradox was sometimes hard to handle, being so warm in here but surrounded by the frigid near-vacuum of space. For some of us, just a few really, the tension was difficult to bear, while most of the others seemed completely fine with it. I was, too, until recently when the breathing issues started. Continue Reading

Heading back “home” again always made Hayley feel both anxious and excited. They say the road can be cold and lonely, and a lot of the time it was. But it was also filled with grand adventures and wondrous sights. Still, none of it meant anything without those trips back home—with its warmth and anticipation.

come_tShe felt good this year, trim and agile, and even had lost a bit of weight. Her mood was blue—not in the sense of being sad or melancholy, but more so in the way she felt energetic and in her haste to get home. The work kept her on the move, often against the tide so to speak, but now it felt like gliding on ice as she coasted back to the place where she would be recognized as special: to see and be seen again.

“I’ll be there soon,” Hayley thought to herself in the dark quietude of the long road. “I’ll stay for a little while, then I just need to check in with the boss for a bit, and then I’ll be back again right after that.” Saying it aloud in her own mind made it seem like a promise, but also an explanation for her absence. Continue Reading