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Howdy. We've moved from Cayce, but St. Elizabeth of South Rose Hill or Lizette de Waccamaw de Sud just don't do it for me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Re-assigning meaning, again, for 7/11

I’ve planned to write this evening about 7/11/79, the day Skylab fell harmlessly to earth over the Australian Outback. We’d all been worried for weeks about where it would land as its orbit decayed. There was a bit of fear, and plenty of morbid humor as the world wondered what city would be struck by a flaming ball of space debris.

Izzy and I met the summer of Skylab. July 11 was likely the 4th Wednesday in a row that we’d gone to a small fundie youth Bible study (“Youth Ranch”) with his best friend from Texas, who had moved to the square mile town where I went to high school. We were hanging around together, enjoying a summer of doing little, building (slowly…) a friendship.

Friend from Texas worked in a grocery store, which became one of the places we’d hang out. Ever had a plum omelet? Ever had one cooked on the hotplate that grocery stores use to seal cellophane wrap around produce? I’ll bet not.

Izzy & Friend from Texas decided that the world having been spared from destruction was a good reason to celebrate, and there should be a party at that evening’s Youth Ranch meeting. Friend from Texas asked the bakery lady in the grocery store for a “Welcome Home Skylab” cake. Bakery lady had, sadly, not heard of Skylab and so was (1) unable to appreciate the peril in which she had lived, and (2) unable to design much more than a silver and white cake with “Welcome Home Skylab” and (as I recall) some sort of silver blob on the top.

We brought the cake to Ranch, and made a personal memory. 7/11 went from convenience store to day of relief. Every year since then, Izzy and I have celebrated Skylab every July 11th, and the fact that not everything we fear comes to pass.

This changes now. Not the certainty and faith, but the meaning of the day.

7/11 joins 7/7, 3/11 and 9/11 as days of senseless tragedy.

It leaves the realm of calendar entries and joins days of televised retrospectives.

Retrospectives that can only happen after the raw pain subsides---something I’m sure many Mumbaikars cannot imagine today.

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