Far Out

Art by Guillermo Hernandez via Mixkit.co

“Jenna, get up here and get these toys off this floor right now!”

The pulsating voice of my mother thundered from blocks away. She was a Navy officer, an OF-2, Lieutenant well before I was born and hadn’t shaken the orderly and methodical ways of doing things from her life. She’d wake me up at the peak of dawn’s light, order me to “rise and shine,” promptly shower, put on my clothes, and meet her downstairs in our kitchen for breakfast. All of this, she expected in twenty minutes.

She said before I came along life was punctual and fully functioning, with no possibility of error. I often wondered about that — living such a life with no risks or deviations seemed strange to me. It still does.

The morning my mother yelled at the top of her lungs for me to clear my room of disorganized toys, I was eight years old. I lived freely in my imagination. It was the safest place to be. I played alone. I walked to school alone. At recess, I made up games on my own and did not invite others to accompany me. In solitude is where I wanted to be.

During that time, Randi Rocketeer was my favorite t. v. show. Randi Haltman, the show’s protagonist, was a trans woman with dark pink hair, rosy cheeks, and eyes of two different colors. She had the most amazing spacesuit! It came fully equipped with a water compartment, visors for protecting the eyes from direct sunlight, and custom-designed gloves monikered with Randi’s initials. Strapped to her waist, Randi had a can of compressed air, for what, I never knew.

Not only was the suit prepared for the dangers of space, but it was also tie-dyed the following colors; purple, pink, blue, and yellow.

I found myself mystified by Randi Rocketeer. Every day, promptly after doing my homework and eating dinner, I plopped my bony hind-end on my mother’s shiny, hardwood floors and switched on the television. For forty-five minutes, that’s where I’d be — taking in Randi Rocketeer. My mother would howl from the kitchen as soon as the credits began for me to wash the dishes and clean up before I went to bed.

Clockwork. Everything was clockwork.

“Jenna, right now!”

I thought about Randi Haltman. Did she have chores? Was her mother ever in the military? How was she a man before and a woman now? I asked my mother the last question one Friday after our school’s PTA meeting and the only response I received was, “Do I look like Randi Haltman?” I didn’t know what to say to that. I shrunk in the backseat of my mother’s Cadillac Seville, littler than I was before we left the house. I didn’t say another word for the rest of the night.

Randi Rocketeer’s motto was “Shoot for the sky and land on the moon.” They tasked her with the job of fighting crime in outer space and she did so with courage and a high success rate of capturing perpetrators and criminals. I begged my mother to buy me a spacesuit like Randi Haltman’s. Every Halloween, that was my request. By the time I was thirteen years old, I stopped asking for one. I thought — didn’t get one last year or the year before or the year before that, so I probably won’t get one this year, either. I was right.

I believed having a spacesuit like Randi Haltman’s would make me courageous — would help me be less me. Instead, I continued to feel as useless as the compressed air strapped to her waist.

“Don’t make me come down there, Jenna! These toys have a place to be. Put them there!”

I sat with my legs folded one over the other right in front of the t. v., mesmerized by Randi Rocketeer. I heard my mother. I tuned her out. Her voice was a nagging pang one couldn’t rid oneself of if the prescription was an equal dose of morphine and oxycodone.

My dad left when I was five. He took his four work uniforms, church shoes, a box of 1970s Playboy magazines, and a pack of cigarettes. Nothing else. I glued myself to his legs as he walked toward our door and begged him to take me with him.

“Your mother said I can’t, kiddo.”

And just like that, he vanished. No phone calls. No letters. No visits. The only thing I remember about my dad is the look on his face when he uttered, “Your mother said . . .” It was like he was being commanded — as if he had enlisted in my mother’s own form of a naval academy and was dishonorably discharged for lewd and lascivious behavior. My mother told me later on, “I don’t need anyone who weighs me down. I can do bad by myself.” I get it now, I didn’t then.

Self-Sufficiency, learn it.

Mother taught me how to cook, clean house, make up a bed “the Navy way,” change the oil in her car, and harvest our garden’s vegetables. By the time I was eleven, I was mowing our front and back yards. We hardly ever left the house unless it was to go to the grocery store or the gas station. Mother made all of my clothes, even my jeans. She bought fabric from Tina’s Fabric Shoppe on Fairview Avenue.

I had a favorite baseball cap I wore everywhere. One day, I misplaced it. I looked all over our house for it, even in my mother’s Cadillac. No luck. I ran to my mother, plump tears filling my eyes, and moaned, “I can’t find my ball cap anywhere, Mom.”

“That sounds like a personal problem. I can’t keep up with your things. You’re old enough to do that on your own.”

And that night . . . I left the toys out on my bedroom floor. I ignored her as she called me to tidy up my room. I turned the volume to our t. v. up louder, letting Randi Rocketeer drown out the droning of my mother’s voice. I sat there — simply sat there and dreamt of being far away from her. Far out and away from her.

I wanted to live in the sky. And so I did.


In 1996, Jenna Knight fulfilled her dream of becoming an astronaut and lives and works in Washington, D.C. She is married to her loving husband Jacob and has two children. In her spare time, she watches reruns of Randi Rocketeer and no longer feels as useless as the compressed air strapped to her favorite television superhero’s waist.


*Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium. *Special thanks to Terrye Turpin for helping me finesse this story a bit more.

Scintillating Saturday Share #17

Every Saturday, I will share a photo that touches my heart, makes me happy, or lifts my spirits in some way. The purpose? To send love, light, peace, and kindness out into the ether. Scintillating Saturdays: one definition of the word scintillating is as follows: witty; brilliantly clever.”

Can we do that here, beautiful people, spark something brilliantly clever that touches others every Saturday? Please share this to all of your social media outlets. We can do what we can by spreading a little love, can’t we?


One Love Sign, Raising Cane’s Chicken, Anchorage, AK|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Using up to 7 words, tell me what this photo sparks in you. Here’s mine:


love flaunts–
i t s e l f
everywhere


Now, it’s your turn. This’ll be our “Scintillating Saturday Share #17.” You can respond to this post, reblog and respond, or create a standalone post of your own, but please ping or tag this post so that I’ll know to read and respond to yours.

Using up to 7 words, tell me what this photo sparks in you.

Care to get creative with me for this scintillating Saturday share?

Scintillating Saturday Share #16

Every Saturday, I will share a photo that touches my heart, makes me happy, or lifts my spirits in some way. The purpose? To send love, light, peace, and kindness out into the ether. Scintillating Saturdays: one definition of the word scintillating is as follows: witty; brilliantly clever.”

Can we do that here, beautiful people, spark something brilliantly clever that touches others every Saturday? Please share this to all of your social media outlets. We can do what we can by spreading a little love, can’t we?

Wooden sculpture: Tribal Medical Campus/Anchorage, Alaska

Using up to 7 words, tell me what this photo sparks in you. Here’s mine:


stunning artwork–
a bold presence


Now, it’s your turn. This’ll be our “Scintillating Saturday Share #16.” You can respond to this post, reblog and respond, or create a standalone post of your own, but please ping or tag this post so that I’ll know to read and respond to yours.

Using up to 7 words, tell me what this photo sparks in you.

Care to get creative with me for this scintillating Saturday share?

Sights and Scenes and a Nonet

Today is my last full day in Anchorage, Alaska. I have a red eye flight into Phoenix early Friday morning around 12:45 am or so. Trust that I will have napped and be prepared with a full belly before taking on this flight. I am supposed to be back in Charlotte by 3:47 pm. I do not want to leave but in life, “all good things must come to an end.”

Yesterday, we went to see Rocketman and I cried like someone was stepping on my pinky toe while I was wearing stilettos. We also went to an inviting chicken spot called Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and I had the four-count chicken finger basket with fries and coleslaw and it was delicious! Tuesday, we toured Downton Anchorage and had birthday lunch for my beautiful friend at Simon & Seafort’s. I had their fish and chips lunch special and I could have licked the plate. (Shh, don’t tell anyone that!)

Last night, we were hosted at my friend’s friend’s home where we had fresh Alaskan salmon, straight-from-her-garden kale, brown rice, and homemade birthday brownies. There are so many things to do and sights to see here and even if I stayed another week, I wouldn’t be able to accomplish seeing everything. I am pretty sure exploring the whole of Anchorage would take nearly a lifetime. And now, for the pictures:

Downtown Anchorage Condominium Building #1

Downtown Anchorage Condominium Building #2

Water fountain next door to Simon & Seafort’s

Fish and chips special at Simon & Seafort’s

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers

Powerful statement hanging above the registers at Raising Cane’s

Line them up: trees near my friend’s home.

Too big to eat cinnamon rolls at the sweets shop in Girdwood, Alaska.

Runaway sweet tooth: too big to eat cinnamon rolls and even bigger cookies

Traveling Shoes

please, load the memories up for me
make me feel like I’ve been somewhere
and have done something useful
exploration is key
we have unlocked doors
and walked through them
whole, unscathed
present
now