The Apollo 11 Mission landed on the Moon on my 2nd birthday, July 20th 1969. I was told the story countless times of how my family were all huddled around the TV watching this historic event on my birthday. Because of this, I always felt some connection to the Moon Landing. My mother bought some memorabilia for me at the time and many years later I bought myself an original newspaper with the story on the cover-I found it on a NYC street and paid something like 20 bucks for it (its somewhere in my basement now....or maybe my attic). In recent years, I became a skeptic about the whole thing. I watched some YouTube videos and....well, that never ends well, does it? I've reconsidered and now I'm becoming a believer again.
There is a unique, large bookstore in Huntington, Long Island called "Book Revue." They frequently host famous people for book signings. I'm always on the lookout for interesting people. When I saw Buzz Aldrin was going to be there, I knew I had to go. I thought, "How often do you get to meet someone who...might have....walked on the Moon? And anyway, it happened on my birthday-I have to go!" I also thought maybe I could "read" him and get some sense of what the truth might have been. I imagine, if you've lived a lie your whole life, it would wear on you and somehow it would show. I also imagine, if you really did something that extraordinary, that would show too. You couldn't be normal after walking on the Moon, could you? It is difficult to even comprehend. I actually can't imagine anything more terrifying (talk about a panic attack...."I'm....like.....ON THE MOON.....AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!). I don't think there is any way to understand it without experiencing it. Once you do something like that (I mean once you walk on the Moon!), life must become very lonely and your sense of comradery with those who were with you, must be intense. Buzz Aldrin's dedication in his new book, No Dream Is Too High: Life Lessons from a Man who Walked on the Moon, reads:
"I dedicate this book to the dreamers, the out-of-the-box thinkers and seat-of-the-pants innovators....But I dedicate this especially to my dear friends and Apollo 11 crewmates, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins. [Armstrong died in 2012, but Aldrin seems to still think of him in the present tense. BTW, this quote sounds a lot like the Steve Jobs quote on our Home page.]"
Since planning to meet Buzz, I've learned a lot more about him and about the Apollo 11 Mission. One amazing thing I learned is that he received the Presbyterian form of "Communion" while on the Moon. He also once punched a guy for harassing him about the Moon Landing being a "hoax"...the guy was asking for it (there are numerous videos of this available on the web). Aldrin is greatly accomplished and has lived a very full life-and continues to at the age of 86!
So...on to the bookstore....there was a great turnout for Buzz-I would say at least 500 people of all ages. Buzz was quickly signing each book while the store staff was taking candid photos with people's phones. It was an assembly-line operation with little opportunity to connect. As I stood on line, there was a heartfelt sense of community and friendly conversation going on around me. The man in front of me remembered, like so many others, watching the Moon Landing on TV as a child. As we drew close to Buzz, things suddenly became rushed and slightly confusing as the staff scrambled to get everyone into place and take the pictures. There were several things I wanted to say to him, but when push came to shove, I blurted out, "The Moon Landing was on my 2nd birthday but I don't remember it!" He smiled and said, "That's okay!" And in one brief moment, I looked into a pair of eyes which once beheld the "magnificent desolation" of the lunar surface and....Mother Earth...."four times the size of a full moon....a brilliant jewel in the black velvet sky. [Aldrin's words.]" What I felt was warmth, humanity and genuineness. They gave me back my phone and I was bustled down the stairs, passed a guard.
In my headiness, I looked at my phone, pressed a button and saw the words, "PICTURE ERASED." "What? No. What? No. This isn't happening....a once-in-a-lifetime thing! I couldn't be THAT stupid, could I? Yes, I could. NOOOOOOOOOO! What now???" If you know me at all, you know I am extremely stubborn when I want to be. I went up to the guard and explained my situation. "No! Can't go back!" Went up to the guard at the other end of the stairs. "No!" I tucked my dejected tail between my legs and figured the only thing to do was to break my strict diet and get a horrible treat at the cafe. I said to the cashier, "A chocolate croissant," and like a jilted lover at a bar I broke down...."You won't believe what I just did." He said, "Just stay till the end...you'll get another picture!" "REALLY?" For a moment I was elated, until I decided I didn't trust him. I thought...."What if I buy another book?" As you can see above, it all worked out! I do have to thank the manager of Book Revue for her kindness. And the chocolate croissant was amazing.
This was an altogether worth-it experience. Worth the unseasonably frigid weather, the crowds, the expense of 2 books, a little panic....for a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Buzz is constantly traveling the world doing signings, speeches and all kinds of things (you can check out his itinerary on his website-link above), but who knows when he'll be in New York again? Who knows when he'll finally say, "I've done enough." Knowing him, probably never. I feel privileged to have met and spoken to the second person to walk on the Moon, one of a few select humans from all history to be granted a most extraordinary experience....an experience which ultimately gives glory to the One Who made it all!
Stay tuned for my follow-up post on Aldrin's "Communion" on the Moon-an incredible little-known story which I am currently researching-I will post when my research is done.