Space Shuttles Are Magic

So I didn’t really expect to see the Space Shuttle today. I didn’t really expect to see anything today. It was a sucky end to a sucky week. My car broke down twice, my toilet clogged up, my sinuses are inflamed, my cat had to be rushed to the vet and my sore foot is killing me. I just wanted to curl up in a miserable little ball somewhere and ignore the world.

And yet part of me still wanted to see the Space Shuttle.

But seeing the Space Shuttle involved getting dressed and going somewhere far and standing in the hot sun and I wasn’t up for that.

I got dressed anyway.

Not dressed dressed, like presentable enough to be seen in any real public area. Just decent enough to go out in the front yard should the Endeavour decide to drop by.

But it wasn’t coming to my area. The route on the maps was not going anywhere near my house. In fact, it looked way more likely to go by my work. Which I wasn’t at. Because I was full of sadness and hate for the world.

I put on my shoes anyway.

Because there was an off-chance that maybe, if you found the right angle, you might be able to see it way, way off in the distance when it got to Long Beach.

Maybe I should hop in the car and drive over there now. Maybe somehow my decrepit little car would be able to get there before that huge 747 did.

But I didn’t go.

Because I was still full of self-pity.

The announcers on the TV said that the shuttle was passing over some tankers. Was it Long Beach or Huntington Beach? Long Beach. Parker’s Lighthouse. Rainbow Lagoon.

I went outside.

Nothing in all directions.

Of course, with all the wires and houses and light poles, seeing very far in any direction was impossible anyway. And I felt a little silly standing in my front yard looking for a shuttle that wasn’t there.

Until I noticed the lady in the cul-de-sac across the street pointing toward the houses on my side of the street, calling her family over to look. I crossed the street and looked back.


“Did you see it?” I asked.

“Yes! Right there between the houses. It was flying really low to the west.”

But LAX wasn’t over there. It had to come back and circle north somewhere. Maybe we’d already missed it. Maybe it was already gone.

A man walking a Chihuahua pointed back at the houses. “There it is! There it is!”

This time I see it, going east now, oh so tiny in the distance. And it is turning.

Toward us.

Holy Sacajawea.

I yell at my dad who is standing under the shade of the tree to come out in the street. “It’s turning, it’s turning. Look over there!” I yell at the gardener next door who has stopped his lawnmower to figure out what is wrong with me. “The Space Shuttle. It’s going to come by right over there.” He turns to look.

And, suddenly, there it is, bursting out from behind the huge tree, not more than 500 feet from the ground, softly blue in the hazy air. An entire 747 with the Space Shuttle Endeavour riding on its back, completing a gentle turn to the north, left wing dipped slightly in our direction.

I am jumping up and down in the street. I’ve forgotten that my car doesn’t work, that my foot hurts, that my face feels like it is wrapped in duct tape. The Space Shuttle is practically landing in my front yard.

I watch as it straightens out and heads for LAX, jet fighters in pursuit.

Maybe life is not so bad after all.


4 thoughts on “Space Shuttles Are Magic

  1. I am glad that I got to live that moment through you! I didn’t even know anything about it until a neighbor told us last night when we were out taking a walk and she said, “Don’t you watch tv? And I said, “We don’t have cable or anything, we only rent movies and once in a while I look at the news on the computer.” I usually don’t mind missing most of what goes on in the world, it is more peaceful that way, but I would have liked to have seen that. Maybe we would not have seen anything here anyway. Thanks for sharing!


  2. I think something thats lost in the Endeavour’s flyover of SoCal is the bringing together of community it obviously brought. For a brief moment out in the street with your neighbors you were all brought together demonstrating national pride manifesting itself in shuttle Endeavour.

    I wish NASA had done those flyovers all over the country.

    Such is the power of the space program. A power, sadly, that seems to be lost on elected officials.

    1. The national news didn’t do justice to how big an event this was here in California. People were gathered in clumps in all the designated flyby spots and on top of tall buildings and in the closed off street beside the airport. The 105 freeway (the one that leads to LAX) came to a dead stop when the shuttle went over. People literally stopped their cars to get out and take a picture!

      NASA didn’t pay for the flyover, btw. That was the California Science Center’s idea. NASA only handled the logistics of doing it.

      Also, the national news did not mention that in addition to the state landmarks, the shuttle took a swing by places that were important to the space program. The old Rockwell plant in Downey, JPL, Gabby Giffords’ house in Tucson (her husband Mark Kelly was Endeavour’s last pilot).

      I wish everyone could have seen it.

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