Twenty-five years ago at the moment I’m writing I was standing with my family on a frigid Florida along a lake at Kennedy Space Center watching the Space Shuttle Challenger lift off. Minutes later we were driving back out the access road towards Orlando trying to figure out what had happened. Within hours we were wandering numbly through the Disney Village trying to get our minds back on a “happiest-place-on-earth” track and avoid the ubiquitous footage of what we’d seen that cold morning.
Of all the historical moments that have occurred in my lifetime, that’s mine. That’s the one I was present for. What a moment. Tragedy born of stupidity. Although I suppose that all “great” historical moments are born in tragedy. It’s only later we recognize them as turning points for great good. This one, of course, wasn’t a turning point for anything. Nobody learned anything, nothing changed (see February 1, 2003).
Last night as I was thinking on today I felt, as I always do, a deep sadness for the lives that were lost. I still remember all their names: Scobee, Smith, Resnik, McNair, Jarvis, Onizuka, McAuliffe. Isn’t that a pretty impressive cross-section of the United States? I remember what they looked like. I mourn them lost and wish I hadn’t seen it happen.
But that’s the old curse, “may you live in interesting times.” It’s been interesting. So, despite the unpleasant memories, I’ll be glad I was present at a moment in history and proud that there will always be at least one person who remembers the day and those who were lost.
So ends my second attempt to live in the big city. While we all wait for what happens next, here are some interesting facts:
I moved twice to the big city five years apart: 2005 to Nashville, 2010 to Philadelphia.
I got to Nashville on Labor Day. I left Philadelphia on Labor Day.
In each town I lived eight months.
In each town I spent less time away than I did living there. I think I calculated that I spent less than eight weeks out of eight months actually in residence in Nashville. In Philadelphia I bet it was less than four full weeks out of eight months.
For every end a beginning.
High comedy, this was, high comedy.
Leave the house at the typically obnoxiously early hour required to make the usual obnoxiously long commute. Luckily find out on the way down the street that the Turnpike has been closed for the past four hours due to accident. Re-route yourself down a parallel but very slow road.
Here’s where it gets fun. The parallel slow road goes to one lane for about a mile due to construction. It takes about ten minutes to merge – partly because the truck in front is going obscenely slow and partly because every jackass in the neighborhood is whipping out into the left lane preparatory to cutting back into my lane ahead of the lane merge. ‘Cause, you know, they’re so much more important than me.
I finally get through the light and through the merge area and have to suddenly dodge a universal joint that’s fallen out of the very slow truck ahead of me. Whee! Dodge universal joint, swerve to the right to get around the now dead truck that’s using its last bit of momentum to try and get out of the main flow of traffic in the one lane construction zone.
Now all the traffic is moving slowly, the turnpike is still closed and the word is that all the detouring from the four hour closure means the parallel slow road is choked where it joins the main branch of the east-west turnpike. Already it’s taken an hour to do what usually takes 20 minutes. Just as I’m about to declare all hope is lost I hear the turnpike is open and I’m able to swiftly re-route and enjoy smooth sailing from that point forward.
Total commute time: 2.5 hours. Usual time: 1.75 hours.
The funny ending to the story is seeing one of the trucks that caused the problem in the first place unloading its cargo of dry goods through a hole in the side onto another truck.
What a day.
In a surprising move Thursday, the defending National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies traded their team and the contents of their farm system in order to corner the market on starting pitchers called Roy.
Is it actually possible to play the game of baseball with only a pitcher? Does defense truly win championships?
We’re about to find out.
Godspeed Roys, the faith of fifty hundreds or so of people is riding on your back. Hope you f**kers can hit.
As I settled into sleep last night I calculated in my head what time my waking up time would have been in 1863 and concluded that by the time I woke up, the battle would already have started. Shots are fired, men die and the biggest scrap of the war is underway.
Who knew that July 1 was such a day of battles? I knew Gettysburg started today and somewhere in the dark recesses of my historical memory I recalled that the Battle of San Juan and Kettle Hill was today in 1898 – the 35th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. I didn’t know today was also the beginning of the Battle of El Alamein.
I wonder why July 1 is such a day for fighting. For me, I’m usually railing against the heat as I prepare to again don the wool and sally forth. Why on earth anyone would want to fight in such heat is beyond me.
Happily it’s a gorgeous day, clear and cool. It would be a fine day for fighting if there were any to be done.