It was circa 1972 when I heard my father say that for the first time. As a kid, I would watch the very British television show, UFO, with my dad and when the moment struck he would utter those two words. This was the fuel for my fantasies. If my father could believe that we were not alone in the universe then what chance did a six year old have in denying that train of thought?
What came next seemed only natural. Being a comic book hound, super heroes that lived on Earth suddenly became humans reaching for the stars.
Everyday before school, I’d pass a large photograph of Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin. They sat in their bulky space suits and held their helmets as if they were just coming back from battle. The moon sat like a throne behind them, gray and silver. Majestic.
I would stay awake until the sun came up, dreaming that we were being watched by some benevolent race, maybe even being chuckled at like parents who watch over their children at the playground. Still the years rolled on. My love for sci-fi grew as my dreams for “out there” spread into my every day life.
Then it happened. It was a hot summer night (aren’t they all) and I was out in the backyard embracing the inky black that was night. The sky was indigo against the tree line and I was just like any other teen soaking in his summer vacation – savoring my freedom from the rigors of high school and all that entailed.
Unexpectedly, a blood-red streak flew through the sky. It wasn’t the 4th of July and this streak made no sound. It wasn’t linear in its arc. Rather, it streaked at a series of 50 to 70 degree angles. It also moved at a fantastic rate. At the risk of sounding Star Wars-ian, the streak and the three others that followed were not random, but very precise. Meteorites? Maybe, but these were heading up into the atmosphere, not downward. It all happened in less than 10 seconds. There was no fanfare. No portentous musical prelude. Just the event itself, barren and devoid of any magnified salutation.
I never reported the occurrence. I wasn’t even sure that what I saw wasn’t my version of a “weather balloon.” Still, decades have passed and I continue to look to the sky. It doesn’t have to be the oppressive heat of summer or the paralyzing cold of winter. I always count the stars until I’m bored. It gives the vastness of space before me even more scope.
We can’t comprehend what we can’t touch. Tangible is our personal universe. Quantum physics puts other beings and mirror images of what we are in other dimensions. These aren’t concepts for the faint of heart. Yoda would tell us, “stagnant you have become,” as we occupy our thoughts with little league, PTO meetings, and identity crisis when our best pair of jeans don’t fit anymore. I went outside again tonight on the first real spring-like evening of the year. The red streaks have never appeared again and chances are they probably never will.
Somewhere, out there, second star to the right and straight on till morning…I still believe.