It is two weeks into the mission and everyone is settling in. It’s been a fun transition from life before Mars to life on Mars. My room is finally getting to that comfortable stage along with the rest of the habitat. Leaving my boyfriend, family, and friends for 120+ days wasn’t easy. Those who know me never questioned why. Why would I choose to do something this extreme? No, they’ve always just been supportive.
What are you up to now?
Where are you going on your next trip?
That’s so cool!
I wish I could do something like that.
Those are the general responses I get from my inner circle. The people I have left behind. The people who are always there, behind the scenes, cheering me onward. I put out a shout out before coming on this mission asking them to send me notes I could open on specific days. The boxes poured in and I was shocked. I know my friends care about me. I just never realized how much.
I started with my best friend Diana. I opened her letter first:
Si, you will be in the bubble for four months. They may go quickly, they may go slowly. So in case you need a pick me up, I supplied you with one piece of paper for every day in the bubble….
Wow, my best friend made 120 days’ worth of notes just for me. So every day I get up, reach for my special box of things to open, and pull out the next note. And I laugh. They are so timely. How did she know the night before I would be telling the crew about playing hockey and winning the championship?
How is it possible that for my movie night I have the crew watch Stargate (my favorite Sci-Fi show is SG-1) and the next day her note is a picture of Richard Dean Anderson (AKA MacGyver) standing next to the Stargate and a message saying, “He’s totally impressed by what you are doing”.
Or the music, notes, and cards from my good friends (Lisa, Donna, Amy, Dee, Jen, Steve & Becky) with inspiring words, quotes, and things to think about. The gifts from my mom and boyfriend Steve. Or Christie, the friend who sent me the Facebook link to apply for the HI-SEAS program and said this sounds perfect for you. April is National Poetry month so she sent me a poem to read every other day for the whole month. So many letters from both family and friends – I started posting them on my wall. Every morning I wake up to them – Every night I go to sleep with them – My family is with me.
Experiences like this connect you in ways you don’t realize until they are over. We cook, clean, work, and laugh together every day. We tell stories and share moments. We are building a family – friendships that will last to the end. Bonds that are normally forged over years are being developed daily. It’s just the nature of close confinement. And as I go through this transition of bonding with a new family of friends, I have my mature family, the ones who know me best – cheering me on all the way.
They know that I am not leaving them. They know that what I do here now will be shared through dinners, get-togethers, parties, and trips. They are just waiting for my return. And for that, I am both lucky and thankful!