Linenger's Letters to his Son

March 3, 1997
"
Human beings can adapt to space"

It was great talking to Kathryn today. You lucky dog--you get Mommy all to yourself. But pretty soon you will have to share again. Daddy can't wait!

Mommy said you were the entertainment at Alla's birthday party. Stood in the middle of the room and danced and smiled and laughed and danced some more. You never were shy. And you obviously inherited the rhythm from Mommy.

But you'd be impressed with the gracefulness of your Dad now. I can do triple spins with double turns--no problem. I fly with the greatest of ease. My leaps from module to module are a thing of beauty. I sometimes strike the surfer pose--hands out and crouched down low--and slide (fly) sideways through the air. Hang ten.

I was brushing my teeth this morning and started laughing to myself (actually, out loud; but don't tell the psychologists who are keeping an eye on me to make sure I don't go crazy up here...). I realized that I now feel absolutely normal up here--and half the time I forget that I'm in space. I do things, like just letting my tube of toothpaste float in front of me, as if I had operated in that manner my whole life. I fly from experiment to experiment without thinking about it--as naturally as walking on Earth. I just do it. No thinking involved. As if I were born up here.

The adaptability of the human being is remarkable.

Oh, there are some hiccups. For example, on Earth I can usually eat and go for a run within an hour. I used to love coaxing cousin Tommy for a quick run after dinner, then bury him at the finish with him suffering with a sideache. You will someday be subjected to a stupid rule that makes you sit around and wait for a hour, a whole hour, before going for a dip in the lake after lunch. I realize now that that rule had no applicability to me whatsoever; and nearly cost me a happy childhood.

But up here, it's a bit different. If I have something to drink before running on the treadmill I can feel it "floating up" when I run. Need to re-swallow. Nothing terrible, but annoying. Actually, I take that back--if I just drank orange-mango drink, it is terrible.

Taste changes a bit also. Unlike Mommy who can eat five-star hot Thai food and survive--I never liked spicy-hot food. But the shrimp cocktail that burns you all the way to the back of the nose with horseradish-- or something resembling horseradish--I like up here.

Anyway, you get the idea. Subtle differences. In general, human beings can adapt to space just as we have adapted to land. And feel comfortable, feel 'at home.'

Heard that you welcomed back my crewmates last night in Star City. Mommy said it made her cry. I understand.

Okay, John. I recommend that you do that spit up trick of yours if Mommy tries to make you drink orange-mango drink.

Love you and miss you. Goodnight. I'll be saying a prayer for you, and watching over you.

Dad.

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