“Do you think EVAs are becoming more routine now?” I ask Jin as we check our radios. “I don’t know, we do try to spice it up by going to different locations every time,” he replies.
What I truly want to know, when does it start feeling routine? When does the simulation get under our skin and become the shared reality we know?
We stand in the airlock for five minutes. We walk to the rovers. I back out. We drive off. All this time in our standard EVA gear that consists of a bulky rectangular backpack and a fishbowl-looking helmet.
We get to Robert’s Rock Garden, the place I visited two days ago. As we walk towards the hills, I scan the view. The red desert still amazes me, but in a way that familiar beauty does.
We reach our path up; it is hidden behind a white stone that reminds me of an antique bust worn out by eons of wind and sand. We climb up; we record the coordinates; we climb down. Just two orange dots bopping around the dead valley.
Back at the rover, an excavator drives past. A local man repairing the road. Jin snaps a picture of him, he snaps a picture of us. Both encountering the other – what is real?