These Are The Days

Smart ~ Writer ~ Mom

Month: January 2016

Thirty Years

I’m not sure I would have been as brave as Christa Mcauliffe.

When I remember that awful day, I think of the things she chose to bring with her on that space shuttle. I’d forgotten most of the items until today while reading several news stories. But there was one item that I remember hearing about in the days following the tragedy. She carried a little green stuffed frog that her child gave her.

Well that just gets me.

This is one of those days when people say ‘do you remember where you were when …’ And like most people around my age, I remember.

I was 15 and a sophomore in high school. I was in biology class and my teacher, Mr. Schott, positioned one of those audio visual carts with the TV on top and the cassette player on the shelf below in the corner of our classroom. He was excited for the launch. I can’t recall his exact connection, but I believe he knew Christa Mcauliffe. Of course it doesn’t matter because I think everyone in New England felt like they knew this teacher from New Hampshire. Someone in our own backyard. A Patriots fan who was stunned when the oversized football players asked for her autograph after a game. The country cheered for a teacher but I think New England was cheering for their local girl.

Mr. Schott tuned the TV on during the few minutes before the launch. I don’t even remember if I’d ever seen a launch before but I remember thinking it looked pretty cool. We saw the same clips everyone else saw. Walking out of the building, waving, smiling, headed to the launch pad.

And then in just over a minute, it was over. We saw the smoke billow out in two separate directions. There was confusing sounds and voices coming from the TV.

Mr. Schott walked swiftly, quietly to the TV. He turned it off. And wheeled it out of the room.

No one said a word.

There was talk of parachutes and rescue crews and maybe they were able to … could they have … might they have …

But no. Everyone knows how it ended.

Years later when I was living in Florida, I always thought it was cool that I could see rocket and shuttle launches from my apartment balcony in Orlando. Sometimes we’d have the launch on the TV and we’d run from the living room to the balcony and watch it live and on TV. But every time I watched a launch, I always held my breath a little. I think everyone that remembers the Challenge disaster probably did the same thing. How can you not? It’s such a BIG deal, you know?

I definitely think all of the astronauts that day were brave. And all that came before and have come after as well. It’s such a phenomenal thing to be on the edge of the unknown.

Thirty years ago, I remember hearing about the little green frog and thinking wow, how sad. But now, as a mom, it just rips me open. I wonder how her kids are today. As adults. Reliving this tragedy every year.

Thirty years.

Hard to believe.

It’s Gone

The green spiral-bound notebook where I jotted work notes, random thoughts, to-do lists, blog post ideas, poems … GONE.

After packing everything we could into the last weekend of Christmas break — including a visit to the National Harbor, the Gaylord Convention Center, and Mount Vernon — my family and I returned home Saturday night to virtually empty cupboards. A shopping list was made and off to the Super Wal-Mart we went.

That was my first mistake.

Not the Wal-Mart part, although some would question my choice. I mean the part about making a shopping list. I make ridiculous shopping lists. And then I organize that list into categories like: dairy, bread, produce, canned goods, meats, household stuff, etc. I get a charge out of crossing off each item as I find it and then drawing a huge letter X through the entire category when everything has been checked off.

I probably need some help.

Regardless, I made my list. But instead of using a regular piece of paper I chose to use my notebook. I figured it would be easier to have something to lean on versus a single piece of paper. Plus I could clip my pen at the top so it would be one neat little clipboard-y kind of thing. Oh my god I’ve totally overthought this whole thing haven’t I?

Anyway. The notebook I grabbed was my work notebook. I should have known better. But it was right there. And I was lazy.

I remember the exact moment when destiny bit me in the behind. We were in the checkout line and my little one wanted to get out from the grocery cart seat. I lifted her out and moved my notebook with attached pen there in her place. Easy access for me to review all of the giant Xs and my super-productive shopping trip. As I loaded items onto the conveyor belt I bumped the cart and the seat part folded in and the notebook slid down the inside of the cart. I remember seeing it slide down and thinking don’t forget to grab your notebook when you get to the car.

Items paid for. Bags loaded in the cart thanks to my 11 year old. And out to the parking lot.

Car open. Trunk filled with groceries. Cart returned to store entrance, again, courtesy of my 11 year old. Little one buckled in. Car started. Radio on. Off we go.

Home. Driveway. Garage. Unload groceries. Make dinner. Wash dishes. Bubble baths. Stoybooks. Bedtime. A little computer work. Little TV watching with my husband. A sleepwalking four year old at midnight. A nauseous eleven year old at 1am.

I never even noticed it was gone.

Until the next morning. All my notes all my thoughts and plans and words. Gone.

I suddenly wished I was Superman and could fly around the Earth super fast and reverse time. (omg remember that from the Superman movie? So good.) So I did what any good person would do. I cried a little. And then I grabbed my sick 11 year old and dragged her to the Wal-Mart parking lot so we could search their shopping carts in hopes that it might still be there.

Ladies and gentlemen: it is gone.

Probably thrown away.

I’m still having withdrawals. And I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to remember everything in that green notebook.¬†Tomorrow I will return to the scene of the crime to purchase another notebook. Maybe another green one. Maybe red. And possibly a 2016 calendar. But I’m not using a shopping cart. Or a list.

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