I grew up in the sixties. Back then, before it became cool to engender the adoration of fans by wearing wild hair, screaming like a banshee, and smashing expensive guitars on a stage, American heroes sometimes wore space suits.
On the evening of 20 July 1969 we were visiting some old family friends in Indiana. Randy and I were sitting on the back steps looking at the stars. We could hear our families through the screen door, surrounding the console television, listening to Walter Conkrite’s live report of the moon landing.
Randy and I leaned back on our palms and stared up at the sky for awhile. We didn’t say much. We just listened and gazed, and wondered. And imagined.
I never had the desire that some of my peers had to join those extraordinary people in space. Not consciously anyway. But in my fantasy life, in my world of make believe that is unconstrained by fear of heights and mechanical malfunctions thousands of miles from the nearest service station, I imagined.
I have been imagining for over fifty years.
There are dreams that I had as a young person that served as road maps, driving me through a course of life that has sometimes left me stranded, often helped me find my way, always provided direction to my odyssey. Those dreams have served me very well, paving the road that has been my life with gold bricks that ultimately led me home.
Imaginings are a different brand of dreams. They are not rooted in actual desire, they have no pragmatic design. They stand alone as noble investments of time to amuse us during long drives and late at night when the world goes very quiet. There are no paths, there is no logic. There are only us and the esoteric particle fragments of our unreality, without which grounded life seems only half lived. Such imaginings might spawn dreams, which might lead to reality. But they are also complete in and of themselves.
Journey to the moon? An extraordinary achievement by any standard. That night nearly 42 years ago Walter Conkrite, in a boyish fluster common whenever he spoke of space travel, smiled over at Wally Schirra and said, “Man has landed there and man has taken his first steps there. I wonder just what there is to add to that?”
Not much, Walter. Just an infinite amount of imagination!
Kit Ciaco traveling on her Wingsong Rocket!