Part three of the creative writing series, topic provided by 642 Things to write about, penned by a good friend, The Sailor.
“You are an astronaut. Describe your perfect day.”
Most people expect me to answer this question by taking about how amazing it was to be in space, free-floating above the world below, thinking deep thoughts about immensity and universal-truths.
Honestly, space was balls. You gotta avoid puking pretty much the whole time. You strap yourself in to pee. You can’t eat real bread. Your body begins weakening immediately.
Oh, and farts! Weightless farts don’t dissipate. That’s something they don’t tell you in the NASA brochures. On top of which, you eat nasty freeze-dried food that was made by some crazy Russian factory. The food has one flavor: glop. That and borscht. Ok, two flavours. Both aren’t good. And both make you fart.
Honestly, my best days came after space. When you have the time to really understand the amazing adventure you’ve had a chance to participate in. When it sinks in.
When it really sinks in.
I think, for me, that was when I noticed the little bits of response from people long after we had returned. Sure, there are big parties and thousands of people watching as you are returned to earth, but the best part is when someone recognizes you in a bar, or picks up your coffee at a shop and just says “thanks”.
I like to think of each of these experiences as thanks from the universe for the huge risks we took up there. Risks that were worth it when you consider the kinds of science we were doing, and the potential impact it will have on our future.We learned a lot about how to grow plants and deal with animals in space. If you think that’s a minor accomplishment then you’ve got no idea what it’s going to be like trying to take those first shipments of grain and animals to populate Mars.
We learned about how fast human organs start to decay and atrophy in space, muscle tissue particularly. If you don’t think that’s important then you’d better not plan on being a part of the first long-distance manned spaceflights.
I won’t even be alive when we put some of those pieces of information to use, but I’ll be glad that I made the trip. In the meantime: thanks for the coffee.