At the risk of abasing myself (like I haven’t done that five or ten or a million times), I’m writing what I guess amounts to as a “brag” post about my kid. I’m sorry. It makes me sick too when parents go on endlessly about their kids. We can only hope that it turns out to be a little more than that.
My kid is living this summer in Greece. To be more specific she’s living in Pachia Ammos on the island of Crete. This is one of those ridiculously idyllic picturesque Greek towns that we’ve either visited or seen in magazines and movies that make us all wonder why the hell we live where we do. It’s a tiny town of some 400 people, without a Pharmacia or an ATM but in perfect Greek symmetry, has two Tavernas and a couple of small hotels.
Amelia is there for reasons other than just soaking up the sun with Ouzo in one hand and a plate in the other. Although I carry no illusions about the impact a bottle of Ouzo and a Greek sunset can render. Remember, I am her father after all. She’s entering the fourth year of her Archaeology under-grad with an emphasis on the ancient world. She has to work on a sanctioned dig as a prerequisite to receiving her degree and apparently digging up arrowheads north of Kingston, Ontario just doesn’t do it for her.
She was lucky enough to be accepted to work at Gournia on Crete. Gournia is just a few km’s outside of Pachia Ammos. It is the site of a Minoan Palace and village that dates back as far as 2300 B.C.E. It is referred to as the Pompeii of Minoan Crete because of the good state of preservation. For some reason, not clearly known, it along with all other palatial centres of Crete was destroyed around 1450 B.C.E.
The idea of digging up old stuff has been Amelia’s passion for a long time. She started reading the Amelia Peabody series of books when she was seven. This fictional series describes the exploits of Egyptologist Amelia Peabody Emerson, a character loosely based on Amelia Edwards, a Victorian novelist, travel writer and Egyptologist. (Anybody spotting the pattern here?) I believe that before she completed the first book of the series she was smitten and knew that this was exactly what she wanted to do.
Her desire has on occasion waned. There have only been a few things that I’ve observed that reduce her drive toward completion of her goal to become an archeologist. All three I can clearly sympathize with. Having to learn Ancient Latin and Ancient Greek being the first two. As she has often informed me – these languages are dead for a reason.
The third reason for her distraction is, if not common, certainly understandable given her influences. I think her idealism about academic pursuit has become somewhat jaded. She, like most everyone who has aspired to higher education, has run across a couple of profs that seem to be going through the motions and this pisses her off. But what I surmise has had a greater impact is her developing awareness and experience of the politics of academia. I think she has been disillusioned to discover that striving for the ideal is not always the main consideration once politics enters the fray.
Like a lot of us, I think she finds herself confused by these new realizations that maturity provides us, as we struggle to discover our place in this weird little world of ours.
Now this really comes as no surprise to me as I have observed this apple grow, fall and bounce harshly toward the base of the tree. Maybe you’ve noticed that most of the pabulum I conjure up has a thing or two to do with my continuing struggle to discover a more acute placement in this dimension.
There is nothing quite like the warping confines of a family constellation to deeply imbed the dreaded psychological imprint. And please do respect my maniacal Dr. Frankanshteen(misspelling intentional)-like abilities.
I do however hold steadfast in the hope that Amelia has discovered a passion that will ultimately be stronger than the political forces that conspire against it. Not to mention the obscurely contorting concepts of her parental figures. I’m pretty sure that she digs digging up old shit so much that she will learn to cope with the extraneous stuff and gallop willingly into the Indiana Jones sunset. You didn’t think I was going to write this without slipping in at least one reference did you?
Amelia is only a week into her experience and has only been on site for a few days but already I can feel that original passion being stirred up and brought to the surface.
She e-mailed me earlier today to and went on to describe how her trench “master” (what was I nattering on about earlier regarding the elitism of academia? Great choice of terms here eh? - I guess if it were still 1880 in the deserts of Egypt, when the imperialists Archeological hoard still utilized slaves, it would remain a pertinent term. - I wonder how many academic theses on the evolution or adaptability of language languish on a University shelf somewhere strictly for the sake of being published rather than having ever been employed? – Geez, I wonder where the kid picked up that questioning cynicism?) is a guy she had to cite a number of times earlier this year in a paper she wrote on gender and sexuality in the ancient world. This is an area of Archeology that she can eventually see herself specializing in.
After reading this, I got to thinking about how a summer working side by side with like-minded people, as influential as this, will manifest itself. I also got to thinking about how working side by side with like-minded men, as influential as this, could manifest itself but quickly put that out of my highly un-evolved mind. Regardless it’s going to be a down right pivotal experience. I’m so excited for her that I felt compelled to share what’s going on and apologize if it’s indulgent.
By the way, she is a far better writer than I am and is blogging about the experience. If you would like to follow along it’s at www.onadig.tumblr.com.