Have a good semester.
Will I see you at breakfast?
When does your shuttle come?
I already miss you…
For the stragglers among us — and I am among the stragglers simply because I got a short nap in after dinner — the pull to call it a night and do our last minute packing is in defiance of our refusal to let go. We admit how hard it is on our families and loved ones to lose us from our lives for so long, and I can’t help imagine that first time a lunar orbiter circled the moon and communication went dark. There was no reason the astronauts wouldn’t complete the orbit unaffected, and yet those moments where communication was completely blocked left mission control back on earth worried about the safe return of the mission. Here we are, emerging from the dark side of our moon, our residency concluded, our command bases anxiously looking forward to our safe returns and complete debriefings.
We have called this environment many things, including a retreat, a place to recharge our creative batteries, and a hothouse. Like a hothouse, we grow quickly under artificial conditions and the fruits of our labors are larger than normal. We live together and eat together and work together, and when the time comes we scatter back to our non-hothouse worlds and attempt to make sense of it all.
Emerging from the dark side, artificially accelerated… these attempts to explain the process and environment always seem to fail. And it the end, much like a party we don’t wish to leave, it’s yet another bittersweet moment that we will treasure and process and store away for future use in our writing. Twenty-four hours from now we will either be home or well on our way that direction.
It’s that thing we talk about the entire time we’re here. About what we do at home, what we will do at home, what’s awaiting us at home, what we’re looking forward to at home. No matter how much “important” work we do here at the residency, no matter how focused we are, no matter what, we are always mindful of home. A hothouse is not a home, neither is a lunar capsule isolated from all contact with the rest of the world.
There’s work to do, and for that we must go home.