The Alien Departs

Marooned. 1969

We were watching ET for the third or fourth time, laughing merrily through most of it, until the moment when that other, much larger alien says, “ET phone home.” That brought on a flood of tears, which surprised me. As I mentioned before, our Alien just doesn’t do that. He’s radically unemotional, as one would expect from the former teacher of Marcus Aurelius, whom he said he knew well. It was the first time I had seen moisture fall from his five eyes. All of them, shiny wet, at once.

He obviously missed his home-world all too much.

Was it the pull of gravity working overtime, as we sat there on the couch, eating chips, drinking sodas, trying to get in sync with Spielberg’s vision of American suburban life? Or something much deeper, more existential? Was he, in a sense, dying for his planet, dying because he was so far away from it?

Universal spirits, and the paradox of belonging everywhere and nowhere and to just one, particular place . . .

He left our towering multiplex yesterday, at noon, from its flat roof-top. The two-Being ship, stored away for some five years, newly charged and surprisingly without any mechanical defects, rose up slowly, then shot out horizontally in a flash. In less than a blink of my eyes, it vanished, instead of fading into the distance, as I would have expected.

Do I regret rejecting his offer of manning the other seat? Yes and no. After ET, and before I played him the song below, I told him of the time I had my first serious panic attack, when I was just a lad, inside a beach-side theater. The movie was Marooned, it was 1969, and when one of the astronauts floats out into space and, unable to breathe, dies, I struggled to breathe too. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before, that direct, instantaneous reaction to someone suffering through their last moments on . . . in space.

I knew then that my place was here, on this earth, and my discoveries would be in imaginary realms, not physically elsewhere.

Yes, Bowie’s “Space Oddity” was too on the nose even for me, and perhaps for the Alien too, but I had no other choice. It does reduce my sense of loss somewhat that he told me it was “good luck” in his world to use the most inappropriate symbols, signs, and expressions in the face of potential catastrophe.

Goddess speed, Alien. Goddess speed.

The Alien Departs
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