Friday, September 30, 2016

That little Candle

This week, Rosetta, a European spacecraft, crashed into comet 67p, also known as Churyumov-Gerasimenk, after a 12-year journey across time and space. Rosetta lost contact with Earth forever, bringing the historic mission to an end. The team in Darmstadt, Germany, who had been working on this project for decades,
clapped, embraced, and shed tears as the craft crash-landed on the comet that was traveling at 84,000 miles an hour. Ironically, Rosetta, was only traveling at a speed of 3 ft per second (walking pace) as it was embraced by the traveling cluster of rock-like material and dust originally from the Kuiper belt, a disc of remnants beyond our planets, formed after the birth of our solar system.

For me there is something tragic and captivating about this story, especially the thought of Rosetta’s slow demise onto the surface of the racing comet, speeding across the universe, picking up wearing travelers, like gravity’s angel. 


I had the good fortune to spend last Saturday afternoon with my girlfriend and her two boys. Thanks to my dad, we had tickets to the Boston College football game at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, an area in Massachusetts best know for the Jesuit college, part of the Boston Marathon route at the top of Heartbreak Hill, and a mall. Chestnut Hill is also part of three municipalities, Boston, Newton, and Brookline, and three different counties, Suffolk, Middlesex, and Norfolk. Talk about identity crisis.

Anyway, it was a picture-perfect early fall afternoon, and while the game was a snooze, BC squashed Wagner State 42- 10, there were a few moments that I can’t stop thinking about.

My girlfriend’s kids are in elementary school, and just a few years apart in age. We’ve been dating eight months now; in fact that Saturday was our anniversary. I knew going into the game that we probably weren’t going stay the entire four quarters. The boys are young, and I don’t have remotely the same interest in college football that I had when I played football as a youth or even when I coached early in my teaching career, but the boys love sports and we thought this was something fun to do together. It was.

Traveling to the game and walking around the stadium past tailgaters and college students was nostalgic for me. As a kid, I remember coming to a BC game for the first time when I was about the same age as the oldest of my girlfriend’s boys. It was special then and still is. My dad graduated from Boston College in 1955 and one of my brothers did too in the 80’s. Because we lived just a few miles from the stadium, our family went to and still goes to home games every year. This was my first time going openly as a trans woman, which sounds weird to write, but for me it was significant.

Two things stand out from that afternoon. The oldest of my girlfriend’s boys is an athlete and also sensitive, he holds my hand in crowds or when we’re crossing the street, and that was no different last week. He also leans on me when we’re sitting as group, which I find endearing and comforting that he trusts me. That happened too. But what really caught my attention were his questions. After each touchdown or score, the BC cheerleaders tumble across the end zone, with the final girl doing round-offs, flips and twists as an exclamation point.

As we watched, he asked, “Gia, were you ever a cheerleader?”

I smiled, and let the thought sink in “no, no I wasn’t, but I’m sure I thought about it." I paused. " but I did do gymnastics until the 10th grade”

With not much of a reaction from him, he asked another question just moments later, “When you played football, did you wear long sleeves under your uniform when it was cold?”

“I guess” I stammered, not knowing he knew I played football.

It took me a few moments, but then the gravity of what he said, eventually hit me. He was able to hold two somewhat opposing thoughts in his head, someone could be both a cheerleader and a football player, plus he was also concerned about football players being cold and being able to perform with long sleeves, that was sweet.

Sitting on a cold metal bench
under a brilliant blue sky, the game had been momentarily interrupted by a child’s wonder and innocence, colliding like a spacecraft landing on a comet.