Exiting a Hab, or Entering a World?

7 Days left.

Filming for the Times has resulted in a ton of footage to look back on, including the first day of the mission. I recently re-watched the clip of our initial entry, immediately after the doors were shut. Our actions portrayed excitement, but our faces are clearly more aligned with the realization of “oh, I’m really doing this…” That day was hectic – running around getting computers set-up, bouncing back and forth between moving in and talking to reporters. It was a rat race all the way up until the closing of that door.

Looking back, that was an incredible leap of faith we took. We had known one another for about a week and were complete strangers otherwise. It was only over the course of the next several months that we began discovering who each other were. I would walk into the seacan to learn that our Google IT specialist was also a violinist, or that another crewmember was also a video game enthusiast. I would also come to learn who has the lightest step, sings most often, cleans their dishes right away, or goes to bed early.

For the past 8 months, I’ve only seen these same 5 people. In a few days, I’ll be leaving the habitat to be greeted with a sea of cameras and curious reporters. We’ll be leaving confinement and jumping straight into a crowd, followed by welcoming at a Comic-con type of event. Talk about being thrown in the deep end.

For the last couple of weeks, my mind is always parallel processing checklist items to complete before the mission and processing the emotions coming up now as it nears its end.

It’s easy to understand the source of that uneasy look on everyone’s face that first day we were locked in. After all, we had little idea of what life inside the habitat would be like. We had no experience to go on.

But now, we’re heading out into a world we’ve spent our entire lives in. It’s the world that has raised and challenged us throughout child and adulthood.

So why does that feel more intimidating than getting locked in?

Perhaps a part of it is simply the fact that life is simpler in here – no crazy daily doomsday news stories or social media distractions. The people who stay in contact with us are the ones that truly care about us. There’s no traffic or unnecessary distractions. We’re not so much leaving a habitat as we are entering a much larger world.

Before the mission, I thought that by now I would be looking forward to things missed in here- feeling the sun beating directly on my skin, perhaps a particular food. Instead, I’m focused on wondering how it will be like to walk into a Walmart – the general public, social pressures, and all. It’s a different kind of culture shock I have yet to experience.

These last few weeks have been some of the most difficult. Group tasks and personal goals require morning to night work schedules. The mind and heart are constantly trying to balance these tasks against taking it all in – spending time with the crew, or sitting by the window and looking out at our beautiful view.

On some days, the sun seemed to shine the entire day. Even when it left, it left behind a sunset so beautiful and unique to that day. Other time when it rained and the clouds took over, we were reminded of our limitations and confinement. I’ll miss watching the volcanoe’s fog slowly roll in, slowly stealing away my view of the lava layers.

So, when I can during late nights and busy mornings, I write. Because in less than 7 days, we’ll be back into a busy, crowded world causing mission memories to grow fainter each day as the fog slowly rolls in, obscuring this life.


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