I had graduated from Junior High a month earlier and we were all wondering what High School would bring into our lives. Losing Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Junior had somewhat rocked our cloistered suburban lives. Every night the news brought the Vietnam War into our homes. Older brothers were being drafted and fear seemed to grip the country.
In school that year I had learned what ‘ethnocentric’ meant. I didn’t want to be that way but it was just so hard for me to imagine people living a life on the other side of the world and our soldiers fighting there. So, pretty much most of us just went on our own merry way, planning vacations and what our new outfit for the first day of school would look like.
July 20th, 1969 was going to be a special night for my sisters and I because my mom was letting us have two friends each over night for the lunar landing. My parents were really into the space race and insisted that we always get up early and watch the launches. My dad was in California visiting my grandma for her 75th birthday and I guess my mom thought that while the cat was away, the mice could play (my dad never let anyone sleep over unless we were in a tent outside).
We were ready with snacks- popcorn, punks and Tang (after all, that is what the astronauts drank). Outside, all of the girls gazed at the moon imagining that we saw the lunar module near it. We bounded into the basement and watched the landing on our new color TV. Amazing… Americans were walking on the moon. I really missed my dad in that moment. That night he was camping in the mountains with my two uncles and my aunt. California seemed as far away as the moon to me. It still feels so strange that we both could witness the same event across the country from one another. Then it dawned on me that other people all over our world could see the same moon, and most likely felt the same awe in that very same moment. I can now say it was the beginning of me trying to understand that across the world, people are more alike than different.