There are two stories today in the New York Times that remind me of my youth. The first is one that I share with the rest of our country. I recall that day in July forty years ago when "we" sent man to walk on the moon. My mom had the television on so that my siblings and I, as well as she, could watch the momentous occasion. I don't recall being amazed by the grainy images being projected to those of us back here on earth and it may have something to do with my father refusing to watch it because he was sure it was a hoax. I was thirteen at the time, so if my father said it was a hoax, I was quite sure it was NOT. Turns out that time, I was right.
But I actually recall more about the ambience of the day, as opposed to watching history being made. The only other time I remembered my mother keeping the television on for long stretches of time was after President Kennedy had been assassinated. I was home from school that day with a bad cold when my mother got a phone call from my grandmother telling her to turn on the TV-the president had been shot. I remember Walter Cronkite choking up with the announcement and I remember watching that sad funeral procession and can still hear the clip-clop of the horses as they drew the coffin down the street. Yet, watching men reach the moon and plant the American flag there was something else altogether. And after watching it, I went to my room to while away the hours writing.
The second story in today's Times that reminded me of when I was about seventeen or so was about the dance troupe Pilobolus. I lived in a very small town in Upstate New York where there was no culture. I hungered for culture. Unlike my father, I was a dreamer and it was my imagination that kept me from suffocating. One Sunday afternoon with nothing to do, I turned on the television. We got only four stations, one that was French-speaking and came to us from Canada, so my choices were limited. But when I turned on PBS, I saw this dance troupe doing the most fascinating twists and turns with their bodies. I was riveted, moved. I loved to dance, but it was more than just what they did, but how they allowed me to see that we are only limited by ourselves. No one was around to share the experience with me, but it is one that I'll never forget. Now I see that this dance troupe has a new show that will premier at the Joyce Theater.
Witnessing men land on the moon was, of course, quite amazing, but allowing a young girl to see that the sky and beyond is the limit is another.