My Dark Secret
May 5, 2011 § 4 Comments
First of all: Happy Cinco de Mayo! I hope some Mexican food and a margarita are on your agenda today. I was in Starbucks this morning and a man asked the barista “What’s today’s date?” The barista chirped, “It’s Cinco de Mayo!” and in an irritated tone the man snapped, “No, what is the date?” Um, yeah. Not his finest moment, I’m sure. Kudos to the barista for not laughing in his face when she answered, “It’s May 5th.”
Anyway, I thought I’d share one of my deepest, darkest secrets today. Here it goes: I’m a history nerd.
Yes, hello, my name is Amy and I’m a history nerd.
I’m interested in all kinds of history, but I get especially nutty over Biblical history.
For my 30th birthday, I fled the country and spent 3 weeks working on an archaelogical dig in Israel. Each day, rather than finding proof of Saint Peter’s house in the sand, I found camels’ teeth, multiple mouthfuls of camels’ teeth… but those teeth were hundreds, if not a thousand, years old! Cool, right?! (Uh, right?)
Here’s a picture of me on my birthday, riding, you guessed it, a camel through the banana plantation on the grounds of the kibbutz I was staying at:
(Riding the camel was great fun until it came time to dismount. That was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I think even more painful than my natural childbirth experience.) I have many more pictures of my trip, but unfortunately, they’re all hardcopy. One of these days I’ll scan and share them. It was an awesome experience.
Two weeks ago, after digging a hole in our yard to transplant a maple tree (which Peter insists is an apple tree), my husband came into the house to tell me that he found a bunch of pottery shards. My heart started pounding, my mind started whirling, and I broke into a sweat, imagining that our house was sitting atop a 17th century village. Visions of grids danced in my head while I wracked my brain thinking about how best to excavate the yard. But, sadly, the “pottery,” turned out to be broken china from the early-mid 20th century. It was still cool, but not as cool as living atop an old village. Le sigh.
As early as the fourth grade, I was into old things. After a field trip to Old Sturbridge Village, I became so infatuated with the olden days that I wrote to the Village asking if I could work there in the summer. There was nothing I wanted more than to churn butter in 100 degree weather while wearing a bonnet and a calico dress.
My application was rejected, but my dream never died.
I spent most of my adult life working at a publishing company that archived primary source material (original books, photos, newspapers, sheet music, diaries, etc.) on microfilm. Supposedly, we had the 10th largest library in the world in our vault. To keep up with technology, we began to digitize the microfilm, which allowed the primary sources to be fully searchable online. For most of my time at the company I was enthralled, not exactly with my job, but with the material I was working with.
Hello, my name is Amy, and I love primary sources.
I love antiques and artifacts of all sorts, but I tend to gravitate towards old books. One of my most favorite possessions is an old book titled “The Importance of Living,” which I found at a used book sale in Vermont. I started flipping through the pages and found underlined passages, pieces of fabric, news clippings from the 1940s, dried flowers, and even a feather, pressed between the yellowed pages. I couldn’t help but wonder who saved those items and why he or she saved them. I did find a name written in the book, Gertrude Miriam Potwin, but Google turned up nothing on her! Just for fun, here are some pictures of another person’s treasures, possibly Gertrude’s, saved in the pages of a book for me to find decades later:
So, there you have it. I feel kind of liberated now that my secret has been shared! From this day forward, I shall wear my bonnets and calico dresses with pride!
My husband will be thrilled.