My husband convinced me to play hookey from work to experience a once-in-a-lifetime event by his side. That hot September morning, we drove to the park by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada, arriving with hundreds of other people. We came from all walks of life toting cameras, coolers, umbrellas, strollers, and children; all headed in the same direction — a gathering of the faithful, making a pilgrimage to Space-Mecca.
We staked a claim to a hot patch of dirt in the dry wash about a quarter-mile south of JPL. I looked with envy at those more prepared than myself. We didn’t even have a bottle of water and our only protection from the blazing sun was a sliver of shade cast by a telephone pole. We huddled together in our shade slice, undeterred, and waited for the arrival of Endeavor.
Our date with destiny was a little behind schedule so we filled the time chatting with our neighbors and watching an elderly gentleman skitter about, lizard-like, for twenty minutes trying to find the perfect spot to set up his camera. A boisterous woman on a cell phone gave us all a blow-by-blow of her conversation with a friend. “IT’S IN MALIBU NOW!!! EVERYONE, IT’S IN MALIBU…COMING IN OUR DIRECTION!!! YOU’RE WATCHING IT ON TV??? WE’RE AT JPL!!!”
Time slowed to a snail’s pace. The sun was beating down on us when the impressively loud lady got back on the phone. “IT’S IN GRIFFITH PARK??? IT’S MADE TWO LOOPS OVER THE OBSERVATORY?!! HEY EVERYONE, IT’S HEADING OUR WAY!!!”
Finally a tiny speck appeared in the sky and within seconds we could make out the NASA 747 with Endeavor riding on it’s back. The crowd cheered and, despite the heat, I got chills as I watched Endeavor make her final voyage.
I almost didn’t make the trip to JPL that day, telling myself that I was too busy and couldn’t possibly take the few hours off of work. I am so glad that I did. How many times can you experience that kind of a rush sitting at your desk?? Sometimes life is what happens while you’re busy working, it’s so worth it to take the time to experience it.
Tags: Endeavor, hookey