by Arley Cole
One of my favorite places on earth is the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. From the minute my eye catches that gigantic Saturn V rocket towering over the interstate, I am already halfway to Mars. Anytime I am in Huntsville it is so hard not to just stop and go in the gift shop at least – I love it that much.
When I was a young, geeky child, we went on a field trip to the Center and I fell in love. I had already been a space cadet of sorts, but the Space Center showed me real rocket motors and pieces of the actual moon. I could walk around a full sized simulator space capsule that was used by the astronauts who trained in it to orbit the earth.
From then on, I was a complete science fiction geek. When Star Wars and the first Star Trek movie came out (oh, I am dating myself now!!) the space travel I saw on the screen mirrored the actual instruments I’d seen at the Space Center. It spoke to my imagination in ways I hadn’t experienced before.
I even considered becoming an astronaut and wrote to NASA for books about Skylab, the orbiting space station from back in the day. They sent me a stack of books that were downright indecipherable, but oh, so cool. I also began my yearly Christmas quest for a real telescope, which I finally got last year. What can I say, real telescopes were slightly outside the family budget when I was growing up. However, Santa did come through with a really neat chemistry set that I used to make my room smell really bad on a regular basis.
Did I mention the fact as well that I am a girl? The story of Star Wars girl Katie Goldman really struck home with me because I spent all my years in a small, rural school system where everybody knew everybody’s mamaw (that’s deep South for grandmother). I know how it feels to be teased and ridiculed for being a science fiction geek.
So now I go out of my way to let my geek flag fly! I even have a Save the Saturn V car tag on my SUV!
This summer we made a family visit to my favorite place, the US Space and Rocket Center, and I came home with a red NASA fleece jacket, complete with three special commemorative pins, and a Space Shuttle necklace.
A few months later, I had my Space Shuttle necklace on when I went into a MacDonald’s and spotted a little boy dressed in a white astronaut jumpsuit, complete with NASA patch. I immediately went over and showed him my necklace. He was impressed. All I knew was that I had made contact with a fellow geek, even if we were decades apart in age.
So how about it? Are you a geek too? Let your geek flag fly!
Arley Cole is the author of The Blacksmith's Daughter, Euterpe's very first release.