When I was little, my brother and I would play in the basement in the dark. The basement was our spaceship. We drew ship controls on paper in markers and crayons and used masking tape to tape them onto work tables in the basement. We'd pretend we were going to far away places, pushing the buttons of our controls to operate our space ship.
I have a memory of receiving my first telescope. We were at my uncle's house and there was snow on the ground. We set it up in the frigid air and looked at the craters in the surface of the full moon. It was awesome.
My grandfather used to teach me constellations that he learned while manning ships in the US Navy. I never learned them as well as I should have, but I looked for them whenever there was enough night to see stars. I knew that if I kept at it, I would get closer to them one day, even if it was on a derelict battleship converted into a spacecraft with a giant energy weapon carving a hole through its center, or perhaps even inside of a spaceship shaped like a lion.
I set my mind to become an astronaut. I did not want to be a fireman or policeman or any of the other jobs that kids wanted when they were young. I decided this and kept this thought with me through school. I chose classes to help me get there. My aim focused more on realistically achieving my dream as I got older. I learned what was required to enter the Air Force Academy, and considered how I could get sponsorship from my congressman.
In 11th grade, knowing that astronauts needed engineering training, I took a drafting class. In our school, drafting was a "shop" class. Nobody in my otherwise advanced placement academic track was in this drafting class. The teacher was coaching the other students through elementary addition of fractions while I was sailing through assignments. To watch his reaction to me, you would think I was the best student my teacher ever had.
At some point during that year, I realized that this class wasn't going to be enough, and that I would not be an astronaut.
Still, I submitted only two college applications because the only schools that I had even considered through my junior year were engineering schools - for the purpose of fallback if the Air Force academy didn't accept me. I was accepted by both engineering schools, and I ended up at one, learning to be a math teacher. That didn't work out.
I've taken a college astronomy class since then, more recently. It was the most fun I've had learning in a while. It made me want to look toward the sky again. Things I aspire to these days are much smaller. I wonder why that is.