i was a shuttle baby.

my brother grew up with a photo of the dave scott and the apollo 15 lunar rover tooling around on the moon. (the landing happened on his birthday. for the record, the evacuation of saigon happened on mine.)

The apollo program was long since gone by the time i was born — but the first launch of the space shuttle Columbia happened a week after my sixth birthday, prime timing for me to become a space junkie.

By the time the challenger disaster happened — my generation’s analog to the “where were you when Kennedy was shot” question — I was 10 years-old, and well aware of what was going on in the world.

To answer the “where we’re you” question, we had gotten four inches of snow the night before, so school was cancelled and I was home for the day. my brother and i had just come in from sledding, and had sat down to hot chocolate and the 11:30am showing of “Scrabble!” on NBC when the dreaded “we interrupt this program…” broke into the television.

i say dreaded, not because we dreaded the news of the disaster — but we dreaded the interruption. at the age of ten, it seemed like the networks were always breaking into my tv shows to cover some boring, only-adults-would-be-interested news event or the other.

And I remember saying as much when they broke into the programming, closing my mouth just in time to see that twisted, y-shaped smoke trail that came after the explosion. even as a snotty 10 year old, i stopped complaining pretty quickly.

by the time the second (Columbia) disaster happened, i was just as checked out from the shuttle program as everyone else. the space shuttle was now (wrongly) dismissed as just an elaborate, expensive fedex truck shipping goods between earth and the international space station, and logistics missions weren’t considered news anymore.

(not to mention, that week I was neck deep in a divorce, selling my home, and moving into my boss’ basement in the city. It was a tough week.)

that said, by this week i had enough sentimentality to shed a tear while I watched the last launch from my computer at work — with a bunch of 20 year olds who didn’t know why I was so emotional about something that should have already been in a museum.

I was pretty worked up this morning for the landing, too. I had forgotten it was happening, until I woke bolt upright at 5:45 am, and wondered why I was awake. After a few minutes, I ran downstairs just in time to catch the last glide in towards the last shuttle landing ever.

If I have a regret on my bucket list, it’s that I never got to see one of the 135 launches or landings in person.