When Apollo 11 splashed down to Earth, NASA carted the boys to a Quarantine Facility to readjust. They figured the chamber would decontaminate them from any strange moon diseases, but it would also readjust their bodies to the strange pressures of Earth.
The chamber was located in Houston, Texas.
So they sat there, in Houston, after just completing the unthinkable, the unimaginable. They sat there for three weeks, in Houston, unable to join their friends, family and support system.
They don’t isolate astronauts anymore, probably because NASA barely exists. But whether the chamber actually does anything or not, it feels like a necessary step when you have literally been off the planet for some time. I kinda get what those scientists were thinking 50 years ago. To just send Buzz and Neil back in to Kroger after bouncing around on the moon seems kind of reckless.
Your body, your mind has to learn how to be a citizen again.
So, I get it. It doesn't mean I like it, but I get it.
I still have things I feel I need to clean and wrap and cook and DO. But I also understand that if we were to have flown home on Sunday, stepping off that plane right back in to being a daughter and mom and friend and neighbor and sister and aunt... my head might have combusted.
So the past two days I have been in my decompression chamber of a hotel bed. I have showered and napped and snacked... all of which have been exhausting. Luke has taken it easy himself, having more than one bowl of bacon and dedicating the rest of his energy to "becoming digestively regular" after pain meds and anesthesia has backed some things up.
My mom has ordered me back to bed and tucked us in as she ran around Houston picking up carry-out, filling prescriptions, and locating every Starbucks in the Houston metropolitian area.
But there was a moment yesterday that all that recharging didn't feel like rest anymore. The blanket felt little heavier and I seemed to sink in the bed a little deeper. I knew it was time to get up but my legs felt like lead and my head ached... I was letting the Houston Hangover creep in.
Until Patty Smith does what all moms do, she told me to get my butt up, get my shoes, grab my hat and, most importantly, put on some lipstick.
Astronauts put on their suits to protect them from outer space. Athletes put on their uniforms as a ceremonial step to get ready to take on their opponent. My uniform, my war paint, to go out and be all that it takes to be Luke’s mom, is lipstick and a Nike cap...
So Luke and I scraped ourselves out of bed grumbling like teenagers all the while knowing mom, per usual, was right.
And so we shopped... which is really just practice being a human again.
I had to wait in lines, maneuver crowds, and exchange pleasantries.
I also had to learn how it felt to take a non-seizing child out in to the community.
We could scoot his chair up to the table at dinner, no longer fearful that he would have a seizure and hit his head on the edge.
We could sit through the whole meal without having to walk out as he cried himself through an episode.
We practiced being 'kinda' normal.
To watch Luke eat a meatball and throw silverware on the floor and and spill his drink and grab people's shirts as they walked by was unbelievable.
We have been to very few restaurants in the past three years but to be able to make it to gelato and cannolis at the end of a meal was a first that brought me to tears.
We are practicing being humans down here and we are getting pretty good at it. As much as I am ready to see my little Sammy-Biscuit-Boy, I know that Houston is apparently the place to be when reintegrating in to the world.
We let our bodies and minds get used to the change in pressure. We let our eyes adjust to sunlight. We catch our balance as cars fly pass us on the street.
And then, when we will step out of the chamber Friday afternoon, we will be ready to take on our new lease on life...
Mother of two amazing little boys, one who just happens to be a TS warrior.