Thank you Joe for getting me off the couch Friday night to watch the shuttle launch from our backyard. It’s one of five million reasons why I’m marrying you.
It was an impromptu thing really. We could have easily watched it launch from the couch. The TV was already turned to the news. It would have been pretty ordinary, grainy, pixelated and forgettable. We would have appreciated it for about .02 seconds and then switched to David Letterman and looked for chocolate to eat.
Instead you grabbed my hand and said, “Let’s walk down to the park and see if we can watch the shuttle launch.”
And I said, “We’ve got like one minute.”
And you said, “Yeah, hurry up.”
So at 11:55 p.m. we strapped the pug into his harness, tethered him to his leash and ran down 1st Street to the park one block from our house. The sky was perfectly clear and the stars looked like Lite-Brite pegs. The pug was panting like hell and you were galloping a good 10 feet in front of us. It was cool out. Well, not cool, but tolerable balminess.
When we got to the bay, you pointed at the sky in the direction of Cape Canaveral and I pointed at a big white star and asked, dumbly, “Is that it?”
“No,” you replied. “Believe me. You’ll know when you see it.”
Just then, from out of nowhere, a clumsy vagabond on a bicycle almost hit us. Jerking his handlebars suddenly, he popped a wheelie, veered off the sidewalk and in the most epic save of all time, managed to not land on his face.
You and I looked at each other sort of bemused-like and then turned our gaze back to Cape Canaveral. Within seconds, the sky lit up so bright you’d have thought a UFO landed. As the shuttle blasted off 109 miles away, I noticed it had done so in the exact spot you said it would.
The only way I can describe it is to say it looked like the atmosphere had been lit from the inside out, the way a blanket looks when kids are playing under it with flashlights. Picture that kind of inside-out lighting and now picture a rocket in the center of that burst, climbing higher into space, slower than you might have imagined and brighter than any fireworks display you’ve ever seen.
Picture the aura borealis on steroids.
When it was over, you and I latched hands and walked home. You chased the pug up 1st Street and then hid behind a tree and tried to scare us by not-so-sneakily popping out.
It was past midnight and we’d spent all night assembling place cards for our wedding. We were drained and tired, sick of labeling and organizing and sorting through RSVP cards. I didn’t tell you then because the moment was so simple and understated, but running down 1st Street to watch the shuttle launch was so romantic and breathtaking, I’m still reeling from it.
PS. This is not my photo. I swiped it off INGNESATFAR’S BLOG. I apologize, I can’t seem to find the original source.