I had plans to fly down to Florida to see the very last space-shuttle launch, the one in the bottom right corner, and meet with my best friend from the internet, someone I had never met in spite of a decade of regular correspondence. We were going to watch the ship launch, then road-trip across the American South to New Orleans, stopping along the way to see things like Florida’s Real Live Mermaids and an exotic animal conservatory. It fell through, as many things do – his work schedule changed, the launch was delayed – so the plan changed and I flew to meet him in New York instead. The last star-ship sailed into the sky without us. Now the friendship is dead and so is the shuttle program. We missed out on both history and love and I’m still not sure, a year later, which was the greater tragedy.
The space shuttle Discovery had its final launch today. I watched from home, glued to my laptop screen, as the entire process played out over live streaming video from Florida, while Tony watched it with me over messenger, cheering for the crew from his Microsoft office in Redmond. We were a small slice of the future right then, together though separate, witnessing history through now common technology, eyes on an image televised live from the side of a rocket roaring with fire into outer space. The number of viewers at the foot of the screen declared that we’d shared the experience with over 30,000 other people. Beautiful. With that number there and Tony’s words on the screen, it was the first time in almost a week that I haven’t felt lonely.