Jupiter is the fifth planet in the solar system. It’s a “gas giant,” which sounds unfortunate. In Montessori school, which I attended until third grade, we were allowed, often, to write paper topics of our own choosing. So I chose the planet of Jupiter for my paper topic, Jupiter being the largest planet available in the solar system at the time (and it still is). I was into big things at the time: blue whales, T-Rexes, depression, Pangaea.
This was in 1st grade when I wrote this paper. I had just learned that week that you could use dashes when writing something, in case the word at the end of a line ran long and you wanted to restart it at the beginning of the next line. Thus, my paper, WHICH WAS WRIT-
-TEN IN ENORMOUS ALL-CAPS,
ENDED UP LOOKING SOMETH-
-ING LIKE THIS, SINCE I HAD-
-N’T YET LEARNED RESTRAIN-
-T IN THE AREA OF EM-DASHES.
…Anyway, so, Jupiter.
Jupiter is the fifth and largest planet. It’s a gas giant. I no longer remember how many moons it has, but it has a large number of moons, including Io, Ganymede, and Europa. Most of what we see of Jupiter is made up of gases, including methane? I am not going to look these facts up. Jupiter has an enormous, everlasting storm that you can see from space, called the Great Storm or the Huge Storm or something — it’s that big swirl that you see in pictures of Jupiter. The storm is the size of Texas in real life, which is fun to imagine, Texas and George Bush being f-cked up by a storm like that.
From the surface of Jupiter (assuming you were standing on top of the clouds, not buried within them), the sun would look five times smaller than it does from Earth. It wouldn’t look like a “sun” at all; it’d just look like a very bright star. You still couldn’t stare directly at the sun, because it would still be too bright. (You could stare at it from the surface of Pluto, though.)
The sun would provide you with light but not heat. Unprotected, you’d freeze to death. At sunrise and sunset, through the haze of the clouds, the sun would resemble a cruciform cross, its arms providing illumination, but no life. You’d die in seconds without a spacesuit. As you would die anywhere else in the known universe, except for on Earth. To quote another, better writer, “It would seem that the universe is thirty billion light years across and every inch of it would kill us if we went there. This is the position of the universe as regards human life.”
But these are not all of the facts that I know about Jupiter.
The other thing that I remember about Jupiter is that the kids’ “science” book that I consulted about it (in-between stealing glances at The World Book Encyclopedia) had sections about extraterrestrial life. Separate sections for each planet — Mercury, Venus, Mars, and so on. For each planet, there was a section with artists’ renderings of what aliens living on that planet might look like. Pluto had ice-like crystal creatures, I remember. Venus had amorphous blobs.
To live on Jupiter, you’d have to be able to float. If you descended too far beneath the clouds, heading towards the core, you’d be crushed by the quite horrific levels of gravity — which is what happens to all of the probes that we’ve dropped into Jupiter. The actual planet part of Jupiter is pretty small — only the size of the Earth. No one has ever seen it, the way that no one’s ever seen God in the Old Testament — assuming that that comparison makes sense, which it doesn’t — anyway, the whole planet part is hidden by the clouds.¹ So if you lived on Jupiter, you’d have to live in the clouds, which sounds fine to me, because I’ve always wanted to be able to fly, which you’d also have to do.
I mentioned this — my desire to fly — to my friend the other day, as we were standing on his balcony, staring at some sparrows that were perched on the telephone wires.
“I wish that I was a bird,” I said to him. “Birds can fly. You’re free when you can fly.”
This was a fairly basic and obvious thing to say — but also, I thought, maybe it was at least slightly poetic?
My friend didn’t seem to think so. “Birds are entirely covered in f-cking lice,” he said. “And they have diseases. Diseases and lice,” he added, thereby terminating the conversation.² I did not mention my desire to float above Jupiter. God knows what he would find wrong with that plan.
And then there’s the other other thing that I know about Jupiter. Scientists believe that the core of the planet is made of carbon. So there’s all this carbon, like black coal, and then there’s all this gas around it, with the heavy gravity, squeezing down on the coal — like evil Superman squeezing on that lump of coal in Superman III, when he evilly turns a lump of coal into a diamond.
…So at its core, probably, Jupiter consists of a diamond that is the size of the planet Earth. A bunch of scientists believe this. Allow me to repeat that: …A DIAMOND. THE SIZE OF. THE PLANET EARTH. This fact has always haunted me for some reason. Well, not for “some reason.” The thing is, I want to have that diamond! Could I assemble a team of men to steal it, Nicholas-Cage-movie-style? I could, can, and will. And I will need… THAT HOT GIRL, UNTRUSTWORTHY GUY WHO TURNS OUT TO BE A NARC, VIN DIESEL, HILARIOUS BLACK PERSON, THE KID, and WONKY SCIENTIST WHO LEARNS SOMETHING ABOUT LIFE IN THE PROCESS. If you are any/ all of these people, please sign up to join my team — “Omega Team” — in the comment section.
We forget things that are amazing. All the time. All. The. Time. How often do you even ever think of the planet Jupiter? I probably remember to think about it once every six months, if I’m lucky. This huge planet. With a storm the size of Texas. And at its center, there’s a diamond. And we never even remember to think about it.
In conclusion, sort of, I have always wanted to live someplace different. Or wanted to be a bird. Either/ or. …I have always wanted to live someplace… different — someplace different from wherever it was that I was currently living. Someplace different. And Jupiter has riches, and Jupiter has grace. …And so, a-Jupiter-ward I will go, along with my team. I will arise, and go, and go to Jupiter. There I will live, amongst the gas and living hot air balloons and the pterodactyls. And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, dropping from the veils of morning to where the Great Storm rages. …There midnight’s a glimmer, and noon a purple glow; the evening full of the pterodactyls’ wings.
And so, I will go now, for always night and day, I hear the gas clouds lapping with low sounds by the sky. While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray. I hear it in the heart’s deep core.