Looking back

When I was a kid growing up the US was in the middle of the space race, who could get to the moon first. It was a huge deal, so big that televisions would be brought into our classrooms (yes, we did not have TV’s in our classrooms) so that we could watch “blast off’s” and “splash down’s” of the brave astronauts. They would send a helicopter out to the location where the capsule was bobbing up and down in the water, and bring the brave soul back to the ship. There would be a big hoorah for them as they returned to the ship, and then the astronaut(s) would be whisked off to isolation for quarantine for different periods of time. This was always a bit troubling for me. Why isolate them? Were we concerned that in the vacuum of space they had been exposed to some bizarre bacteria or virus, space flu as it might have been? And if that was the case, what about the poor folks on the chopper and then on the ship that were exposed to them pre-quarrantine? Yes, these are the things I worried about as a child.

And now I know the answer.

Reentry into any situation once you have been away from it for an extended period, or even just a dramatic period, is a daunting task. You really do need to be quarantined. I was away from my “normal” life for 11.5 weeks. And I wasn’t just doing one thing, like flying about in a space capsule, I was doing loads of different things. And I wasn’t in just one place, like outer space, I was in several different places, each with a different culture and on some occasions different languages. And I was in places that have delightfully comfortable summers. And the principle mode of transportation was walking (or train). And food, for the most part, was free of artificial chemical ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, I was ready to return, but reentry has been a bit difficult. Starting with landing at an airport in the southern US and waiting for my ride in temperatures that were 90F plus degrees (that’s the upper 30’s C).

People ask what I did. Did I have a good time? What was the best part? Why did you go? Would you do it again? And for most of those questions there is no quick answer, and from the most part I am still processing, through reentry, my responses. I can’t give you a time frame for clarity. Unlike the astronauts, I don’t have the luxury of hiding out in seclusion. I reentered to the deep end of the pool, so understanding and reflection has had to make room for instructional plans and balancing my checkbook.

It will come. I know. And I will share.

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