I always seem to be away when space shuttles explode.
When Challenger disintegrated on launch we were in Melbourne. I was 16 and we were on our annual holiday ‘down the beach’. Back in those days there was no internet in homes, no cable tv – we didn’t even have a functional television in our rented sea side flat. I had to pick up the news from the radio, or I read about it in the Herald that evening as we caught the train back to Edithvale after seeing Oklahoma at the Arts Centre. I probably lay awake that night listening to talk-back on the radio I had stuffed under my pillow.
16 years later I was in Wagga Wagga and the situation was eerily similar. Away from home, no cable television, no internet – at least this time there was a tiny tv and Phee was complaining that there was nothing to watch on it. Rae got up to check what was going on and said “the space shuttle has exploded”. I was so sleepy I thought she must’ve been watching a commemoration of the Challenger. “But it says ‘live report'”. So for the second time in my life I got out of a strange bed and listened to sad families, distraught friends and uncomprehending bystanders talk about debris falling from a clear sky, smoke trails and tragic loss of life.
I wonder what will happen in the last week of January when I’m 48?