Receiving the email itself was not a surprise. We had been told when it would come: a few days before the official announcement. Sitting in the kabob shop, I even distracted myself for almost three full minutes after the appointed moment before checking my Inbox. I fully anticipated something like the usual job rejection letter: "Thank you for applying, but your skills do not meet our present needs..."
But I got something else, altogether.
Honestly, upon seeing the word "Congratulations", my first thought was an expletive. I really had not expected to advance to Round 3. Hell, I had never expected to advance into Round 2, either. But back then, just over a year ago, I was one of 1,058. Cool to make it in, but still strong odds against advancing.
I felt like a stone had suddenly appeared in my stomach. Lunch lost all its appeal.
Don't get me wrong: I want to go to Mars, even on a one-way mission. But so many things not under my control have to occur correctly and in a timely fashion for that to happen. But even before those out-of-my-control items can occur, I may have to take decisions that throw my life and the lives of my family into disarray. There are things I need to know that Mars One cannot (understandably) tell me at this time: If selected, how much will I be paid? Will I have to move, and if so, to where? What's their dental plan like?
These questions may seem prosaic, given that I may be asked to blast off the planet, go where no one has ever been before, and try to stay alive indefinitely in a human-made bubble. But all that really dangerous stuff is years down the road. In the meantime, I have a family to support.
And there remains the real question that I have been wrestling with for over a year: can I undertake something that ultimately means leaving my wife behind? Or which could drive her from me?
All that and more flashed through my head as I mechanically ate my chickpeas and naan.
Still... The chance of my being selected to go to Mars had risen. One in twenty-four.