Well, you missed it, y’all. I was in North Carolina blogging about how one of the three cameras taking all those amazing pictures of Pluto is called LORRI. That’s right. After all those hurricanes blowing around with names like Isabel and Wilma, they finally named something of global consequence after me. Never mind that it’s an acronym. Long Range Reconnaissance Imager.
They named another camera, Ralph, after the Kramdens. I couldn’t quite recall who the Kramdens were. I always mix up names. So thinking the Kramdens were Kardashians, and that it was really weird that NASA wanted anything to do with them, I Googled it. Oh! Right! “The Honeymooners.” Well that’s less crass, for sure. But even so — with what generation does Mission Control think they are communicating? For me, and I dare say, mine, Ralph will always be that fine upstanding gentleman who plays one of the principal parts in Judy Bloom’s Forever. But, whatever. It’s all moot. Mute, as they say. That blog entry never got finished. I was busy loving cousins, and dangling toes in the warm Atlantic. Some sweet summer memories, my name in outer space, and you got nothing from me.
Well here’s something. It’s two months later and I’ve still got nothing. There’s no sign of anything other than summer in California, either. Heat waves at pumpkin patches suck. Boys who outgrow their mother’s snuggles suck. I’m not bitter. Air conditioning is drying out my left eyeball. My son has five separate binders to keep him organized in middle school. He can’t find a thing. Nothing seems to work right.
TSA is all over the map. In Los Angeles, which I hereby declare the ugliest, dirtiest airport in the Western Hemisphere, and who, should, as such, by law, provide its adult passengers booties to put over their feet before asking them to walk barefoot, accepts all three of our boarding passes on my husband’s iPhone. Yet, Atlanta, requires them printed out. Are there no National Standards for a National Agency with National Security concerns? Who’s running these staff meetings?
The TSA agent removes us from the line to print out boarding passes. She’s not seen our ID, our names, or anything to identify us at all. We leave the line. Go print out our boarding passes around the corner outside of her range of view and return. She gives us a thumbs up, waves us in, and doesn’t look at them. What?! Are you kidding me?! Security is so tight we must print them out, but we can enter with someone else’s boarding pass?! Or the paper liner of a chocolate bar for all she knows?! Yeah, yeah, we would have got caught up later, at the next checkpoint. But come on. That’s kooky talk. So I do what I do. I expostulate. I impute. I bemoan. I bewail. I are-you-listening-to-me to my husband. Because if I don’t, I’m going to implode. They’re worried about 3.5 ounces of liquid. I’m a ticking bomb. I’m blogging extemporaneously to my husband aloud in line. This makes him very nervous. He would prefer, if I could, could we please not talk about this topic at all, even quietly, until we have left the airport.
Nothing seems to work right.
I’ll state the obvious and point out it’s flooding in South Carolina and droughting in California.
I promise you as soon as it rains it will be a complete disaster here within 48 hours. We can’t handle rain on a normal day. The car accidents, the road slides. Our schools aren’t built for rain. Middle and high schoolers who pass from one class to the next come to classes, books and bodies drenching wet. Their lockers are outside. Their backpacks are soaked through. Classrooms swell with humid wet children and closed doors and windows, right as virus season begins. It’s a petri dish delight. Elementary school children stay in without a place to run and play and instead watch movies they’ve already seen, not just during lunch, but during their recess and physical education time as well, as teachers are not prepared or trained in Common Core Rainy Day lesson plans.
Malibu will probably slip into the sea so that will solve any extended curricular rainy day issues there.
Nothing seems to work right.
This weekend we traveled to see my father’s first cousin’s granddaughter’s Bat Mitzvah. Let me tell you, no one in my immediate family wanted to go. We were just to the East Coast twice in the last two months. It’s right in the middle of work and the school year. “I don’t even know these cousins,” protested the Son Who No Longer Snuggles. Right. That’s why we’re going. And because this one second cousin, the daughter to my father’s cousin, and I have stayed in touch all these years though my father died when I was five, and that side of the family could be so easy to lose since my father was an only child.
We went, and now my son has more cousins. Now those cousins have us. My father’s cousin and others shared so many stories I would never have known or heard. So many of those stories were of things where nothing worked right. To me, and others, though they were cherished memories of lives long ago, lived, like shadows to us now, but hard and real, joy and sorrow once upon a lifetime ago.
We took a lot of pictures together this visit. But this time LORRI, the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager, also got a glimpse of the big picture . . . there’s a lot of nothing-seems to-work-right when you’re right up close. Do you think I can figure out how to step back and see moments through the wide angle lens of time? Fat chance, you say? I’m projecting onto you, you say? — You never said fat chance?! Really, because now I’m busy trying to create some play-on-words with “fat” and “wide angle lens” and you’re saying you never even said it?
At least it’s comforting to know it’s out there, a twinkle of an idea — live my life like every moment is going to be a memory. What about it? Even if I’m gonna still lose my marbles when the day-to-day brings this cosmic party down to Earth, I may just try. Oh, and now I get it. The Kramdens. Stories and lives from days gone by.