Time is strange in space. The sun does not rise in the morning nor set at night. We use artificial lighting to indicate when it is time to wake up and when we should go to bed. We get eight hours of sleep, but I have a very close relationship with my bed and sometimes will cover my lights and set my own alarm. Nine or ten hours is more ideal.
I do not wake up to smell of freshly-brewed coffee, but that is typically all I will have for breakfast. On special occasions I will eat oatmeal with freeze-dried strawberries and a little brown sugar.
With coffee in hand I wander around the station, pausing at every window to take in the various views of space. Not much changes between each window, but I doubt I will ever get over how expansive our surroundings are. It makes me feel very small; it is humbling.
When my coffee is gone I take my empty mug to my desk. There I turn on my computer and look for any new messages from loved ones. I see one from my parents, another from my fiancé, and one from my sister. I know today is going to be a good day.
I look at my to-do list and start working on the easier tasks. Although I slept in, the caffeine has not settled in yet and I am still groggy. I consider making another cup but the number of days left in our trip make me reconsider. I do not want to run out of coffee too soon; you do not want to see me when I have not had coffee.
I fall into my daily routine and before I know it it is lunch time. I do not want to get into details here. Just know the food is passable, but I really miss my kitchen back in Brooklyn.
After lunch I am more energized and push myself to finish early. We are scheduled to pass a rare comet–one I will not see again in my lifetime–so I do not want to miss it. I take my empty mug back to the kitchen to wash it. I return to my room for the book I was reading and make my way to the the community room.
My favorite chair is by the window. I know I will be able to see the comet from there. I open my book and pick up where I had left off, occasionally glancing at my watch or out the window.
I know I have not mentioned any of my crew-mates but that is intentional. My perfect day does not involve them. They are good people, but I chose to be an astronaut for the quiet. After living in New York City for more than five years I needed the quiet.
The alarm on my watch goes off and I scramble out of the chair, pressing my face to the window glass like a child staring out at the first snowfall.
I see the comet come around the side of the station and my draw drops. I have see comets and shooting stars countless times before I moved to New York, but nothing compares to seeing one so close. I hear voices behind me but pay them no mind; right now it is just me and the comet.
Time slows even more as the blazing ball of light passes my window, leaving a trail of burning dust in its wake. I follow it to the next window and then the next until I can no longer see it.
My heart is pounding.
How many people can say they have experienced what I just did?
I feel a tear roll down my cheek and chuckle softly. I did not realize that would make me so emotional. I wipe the tear away and smile. I will never forget this moment. I know I could have taken photos but would they properly capture everything? Probably not.
I return to the community room where the rest of the crew is talking about what just happened. I pick up my book intending to leave but instead I choose to join them. We talk for hours, continuing the conversation over dinner. Surprisingly, I do not want to go to bed when the lights begin to dim.
We reconfigure the lights to stay on a little longer and talk well into the night, not just about the comet but our families, our homes, the lives we left behind… I get a little homesick but never once regret my decision to leave.
A yawn escapes my lips and I finally deem it time for bed. I say goodnight to the few who have lasted this long and return to my room. After getting ready for bed, I am quick to curl up under the sheets and my eyelids immediately grow heavy. Unfortunately, I cannot allow myself to sleep in two days in a row but again, I regret nothing.
Today was perfect.