#782: Cassini

April 26th, 2017

The website ticks just out of time with the clock in the room. The pair keep pace, more or less. They’re just out of sync enough to notice.

The clock clicked 20 minutes to 11 roughly the same moment the website went from the 200,000s to the 199,999s. Each click of the clock brings another second on earth, another seven or eight miles tearing through space.

It’s going 79,032 miles per hour through the void, 198,381 or so miles from its target. I’m motionless, lit by a lamp behind, some streetlights outside and a gleaming laptop screen 934,000,000 miles away watching the spacecraft Cassini dive toward Saturn.

The clock ticks away another heartbeat, another seven or eight miles.

The orbiter Cassini has spent 12 years, nine months and so and so days in the gas giant’s orbit. If it were a person, it would tell you the dinner you made sucks and spend way too much time having funny feelings about a classmate.

It left earth 20 years ago. I was a college freshman then, just a month or two out from my own launch. But this story isn’t about me, or about the intransigence of time or about a grown man watching a website tick mile mile mile to Saturn.

This story’s about pizza.

He came over tonight, and she made pizza. I’ve known him since I was 12 years and so and so months and days. Her, I’ve known for less.

Our night started with a click too. The pilot light kept time with Cassini and clock for one tick and then a flame poofed to existance. There were ramps and a white sauce on the pizza. It was a whole thing.

We talked and ate pizza. We talked about music and family and plans for the future. We talked about hopes and Netflix revivals and he told me about the orbiter Cassini, diving tonight for a final fireworks show into oblivion between the rings of Saturn.

I mean, it’ll still take four months and 20 days before Cassini flares out, but let’s not let facts take away from a dramatic sentence.

Now it’s dark and I’m alone. Two of the people I care about most in this world are back where they belong, happy and healthy and full. And as a clock keeps time with a spacecraft’s race to its end, I think about Cassini and clocks and ramp pizza, feeling good about the whole thing.

Read about ramps and Chicag8 (not a typo)

Another meal, other friends

My favorite teacher

Cassini

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You are currently reading #782: Cassini by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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