Saturday, November 15, 2008

3... 2... 1... We Have Liftoff

There are only a few events in my adult life that have literally made me jump for joy like a five-year-old who just got a puppy for Christmas. One of those gleefully hopping moments occurred as I stood on Cocoa Beach watching a night launch of the space shuttle many years ago.

Last night's lift-off of Endeavor reminded me of that fantastically awesome cool point in time.

We had been working in Central Florida when we found ourselves with a night off between gigs. Shuttles launches are big news in the Sunshine State so we pointed our rental car towards the coast, hoping and praying the weather Gods would smile upon us and the blastoff wouldn't be canceled.

Some locals suggested we stand on the beach, just two or three miles from the launch pad. I think their exact words were, "Oh, don't worry, you'll see it."

Hubby very smartly brought a transistor radio so we could listen to the countdown. The excitement was palpable.

As the sky lit up a brilliant orange, a cheer went up from the assembled crowd. For a brief moment, fear replaced happiness as the world seemed to come to an end. When the glowing ball that was the shuttle headed for the horizon we followed it, drawn toward it like zombies. When it disappeared into space, we found ourselves thigh deep in ocean water. The sights, sounds and smells were spectacular.

When we lived in California, we woke up painfully early to drive over the Angeles Mountains into the desert to watch the shuttle land at Edwards Air Force Base. While the sonic booms were worth the drive it still couldn't compare to the night launch in Florida.

Whenever I get disgusted with the comedy business, I use to shuttle memory to remind myself of how lucky I am to get paid to travel this great land of ours. I've seen things most Americans only dream of witnessing in person. Mentally, it makes me jump for joy.

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