Archeology

[620 words]From when I was a little boy, they used that word every time. I’d known their love affair with history, lost cities, and romantic adventures. He loved it, but the only thing I really knew about archeology was that it kept him from me.

And I hated it…

I never felt that he didn’t love me, and I couldn’t say that he didn’t spend time with me, but all my joyous moments with him were of him just arriving, or the flurry of activity before he left. I remember him carrying me in his arms, laughing as he tickled my sides. I remember his buzzed hair sticking out at odd angles. When school was out for the summer, I would get my hair cropped to the scalp just like he did. His deep blue eyes saw everything and expressed so much. He always seemed to know how I was doing, and what I was thinking. I recall those memories fondly: teaching me to swim, to ride a horse, to read the great works, and even piano and dancing lessons.

My mother told me that he never left my side until I was two years old. I’ve been told that I was to small to remember, but when I tell her of the flashes of memory, she can’t believe I remember. Remembering is all I can do now, but when I think of him, I think of the stories of us inseparable, I can say without doubt that he loved me very much.

Scattered memories are not a father made, but I know what kind of man he was: impulsive, hyperactive, boisterous, itinerant. He loved to travel, to learn something new, and, like the legend, the feeling of adrenaline running through his veins.

But, he stayed with me for two years. No expeditions; No adventure. He thrived in paternal care. I don’t have to remember it clearly, I just know.

I’ve seen photos of my nursery. Books of fairy tales, teddy bears, and a rocking chair adorn the photo if not my memories.

But he was always active, and his paternal instincts I believe were a part of his life, it wasn’t enough to feed his adrenaline addiction.

And it was an addiction. An addiction I didn’t understand until I was much older. I came to understand what he did, and what they called him. I learned of his fame as well. My immature mind ignored the dark connotations of his reputation, and focused instead on memories that made me proud of him.

I poured over photos from his adventures. The gilded objects he uncovered. I remember asking him one day what his most valuable find was. He just smiled, wrapped his arms around my tiny frame and kissed me on my forehead. He didn’t answer my question.

Now I understand, he had answered my question, I was simply too young to understand it.

I realized at a young age that one day, he might not return. So many times I begged him to stay, to never go away. He just looked at me, pain in his eyes. It was a look of hesitation that usually ended with his lips on my forehead. Each time he left, I hated archeology more.

Now I look back at it all from my aged perspective, and I understand why he was so passionate. To discover ancient ruins before anyone else, to bring understand it’s mysteries, of stepping on ground nobody has trodden in centuries, and the discovery of the unknown.

Now I understand his drive to crawl over a site and why he stayed away for months at a time. Archeology and I have an uneasy truce, because he loved it … even if it killed him.

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About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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