By Lily Weeks
Hello. My number designation on my home planet is 60, but for the duration of my stay on this planet, I will be referring to myself as Janet, for ease of introduction to humans used to human names. I am a student at St. Laika’s School For Distinguished Young Ladies, located on the dark side of the celestial body known to Earthlings as “the moon,” and my trip to Earth is part of my graduation. I must familiarize myself with the ways of Earth, so that I may do my job better once I graduate. What is my job? Perhaps I can write a separate article about that. For simplicity’s sake, I suppose one may call me a guardian angel.
My first day on Earth began with introducing myself to my host family. They are quite discreet and have lots of land surrounding their home. For the sake of their privacy, I will not reveal their names. In my research, I have discovered that homesickness is a common affliction in those leaving their home for the first time, and when I began to feel telltale symptoms – feelings of isolation, vertigo, depression – I look up at the sky, the stars so easily visible at night, and am reinvigorated. It is very convenient, seeing as the sky is everywhere.
I am having trouble understanding the human construct of “high school.” Humans are only capable of three to four hours of productive learning or work per day, yet school lasts for almost double that time. However, it seems to provide a valuable social interaction component to young humans. One of the first lessons we learn about Earth is that productivity takes many forms, and young humans socializing is certainly not a waste of time.
Instead of one large store that sells everything a human may require in one easy-to-access location, like the Mart we have on the moon, humans have many stores, in many places. Each has a unique color scheme and method of selling their product. This is likely because many of these stores’ goods are objectively overpriced compared to their value, and so they must sell an aesthetic in addition to the tangible product. However, I found myself admitting that these separate stores are very beautiful, especially the “shopping malls,” which remind me of the Mart at home.
Their sleek, shining architecture makes the deepest, most robotic parts of my programming happy. It is the same part of me that perked its ears up like a dog when I saw a large display of computer parts at a store dedicated to them. From a human perspective, I am not nice to look at, but in that moment, near the display of computer parts, I felt like I could be beautiful to someone. That felt nice.
Humans are incredibly preoccupied with beauty, to an extent that I have never seen. Everywhere I went – stores, school, residential districts – humans were staring at things because they found them beautiful. Other humans are shunned or uplifted based on whether or not they are thought to be beautiful. It is a wonder how they get anything done, considering that their environment changes every day, giving them new things to stare at. The moon rarely ever changes, and most of my classmates at St. Laika’s all look the same.
Pets are one of the strangest and most delightful aspects of life on Earth. I had seen videos of dogs with their humans at school on the moon, but seeing the process of humans adopting members of other species into their own families for myself was an entirely different experience. Nothing is more proof of humans’ inherent goodness than their love for creatures. Dogs and cats enjoy curling up next to me, even though I am not human. My theory for why this is is that I am very warm when turned on, like the rudimentary laptop computers in use by many humans.
I have met a friend. Her name is Katherine, but she has requested I call her “Kat,” so I do. Nicknames are another quirk of humans. They can be acquired through deeds, similar to noble titles (which seem to no longer be in use), or assigned if a human has a particularly long name that is difficult to say quickly. My host father on Earth has taken to calling me “Sixer” instead of Janet or 60. Katherine rarely has time to socialize over a meal, because she is usually eating while doing something else. This suits me just fine, as I do not eat.
Much of her time is taken up by the band she is in, where she plays clarinet. She doesn’t mind that I do not eat often, because she does not either. Her meals are prepared and eaten quickly, with no time for talking. I have asked her if she is upset by this or wishes she had more time, and she says that sometimes she does, but she loves the band enough that it makes up for her lack of time otherwise. She says she likes the band because she likes to play music. The human preoccupation with beauty strikes again. I wonder if I will be able to understand it by the time I leave this planet.
This concludes my first journal entry. Earth is much like the videos I have seen on the moon, but also quite different, and I am excited to learn more about it. I will doubtless be writing more journals on the other things I discover and people I meet during my semester abroad.