Super Collider/My Lost Youth

In the early 90s, few things were as exciting to me as the knowledge that a super-conducting super collider was being built in Waxahachie. My enthusiasm at the thought of this marvel of science being built only a few hours drive north of me was in no way dampened by the fact that I didn’t know anything about what a super collider was for, how it worked, or what it did (besides, of course, smashing things together). It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter because this was a structure so wondrous that it required two uses of the word “super” in its name to even begin to capture its essence. Can you imagine how much greater than Superman Super-superman would be? You could sooner visualize the size of the known universe.
It all made so much sense to me, and bolstered my still child-like worldview that the universe was a fundamentally just and awesome place, filled with miracles of science and imagination. People had come together and committed billions of dollars to smashing reality into tiny pieces on the grandest scale on an equally grand stage, Texas. The whole world would know that the most delicious BBQ, the toughest football, the sweetest tea, and most smashed-up atoms could only be found in the Lone Star State. I had even convinced myself that atoms were only the beginning. Surely, after enough of those had been smashed together, we would move on to putting other things inside the super collider to be smashed together at near-light speed: watermelons, bowling balls, plastic army men, etc.
On a dark day that I’ve chosen to forget, however, the super collider, and with it the grandest dreams of my childhood, came to an end. “Too expensive,” said the myopic. “Unnecessary,” said the killjoys. “Where’s Waxahachie?” said America. The tunnels, already dug and sowed with the promise of super-conducted super collisions, were left to the weeds. The promise of a new and greater world, built on a foundation of penetrating scientific insights into the deep structure of reality, surrendered to the petty world of cost overruns and government committee meetings. Thus the true face of the world was revealed to me, and in short order further confirmation of this grotesque facade was provided in the form of 7th and 8th grade.
I suppose the continued success and good work of the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva should be some consolation, but it’s not. I’m haunted by thoughts of what could have been: cataclysmic particle collisions deep in the heart of Texas that would’ve brought a prideful tear to even old Sam Houston himself. Haunted, too, by the memory of my lost youth, and the dreams of watermelons accelerated to almost 186,000 miles per second.