This is a long overdue update, but I wanted to tell you that I survived field school : )
This is Teddy by the way, Pie would never be so foolish as to go and live in a place for 5 weeks where there was no wi fi, limited electricity, AC, water pressure, communication with the outside world. She’s just smart that way. Me? I’m not so smart. That being said, I had the time of my life.
I was about 45 minuted away from Winslow, AZ. And let me tell you about Winslow, it’s in the middle of nowhere. They had a Wallmart and a street dedicated to “Sittin’ On the Corner in Winslow Arizona” from that Eagles song. That was literally it. I lived with about 20 people in an old ranch, stayed in a cabin with 7 people in wooden bunks and excavated for 8-11 hours every day. And that was my life. It was weird, because I never thought I’d be well enough to go. Not in a million years. I researched in in Fall semester for a class assignment, applied last minute, and brought a bouquet of flowers to the professor who wrote a good enough letter to get me in. But none of those things were really holding me back, what was holding me back was my health. For the past 3 years I’ve been sitting, waiting, and aching to be somewhere else. This was one of the first times I got to sit, look around, and realize that while yeah, it’s been a long time coming, I was incredibly blessed.
And the weird part? All my limitations just sort of melted away. I walked for miles in the (literally) blistering sun, painstakingly scanning the ground for artifacts, and there was nothing to see but the sky. And lots of monstrously large centipedes. But I was rescued by my professor thank heavens.
(That’s not me in the picture…did you really think I was a man with a white beard? Hmm? Did you?!?!)  It wasn’t just physically exhausting (there were lots of afternoon pass out sessions the first two weeks) but mentally draining. We had lectures every night after dinner, math homework (I came to the ghastly realization that math is actually useful), and paperwork. Our work was being painstakingly documented, every lithic (remnant of a stone tool), or pottery sherd (commonly known as a shard) was crucial to understanding this people we were studying from the 1200s.
I was useful, I was GOOD at what I was doing, and I got to push myself to the brink every day. I had hours of physical labor, and so many nights spent perched on a fence post watching a herd of bison be drenched with color by the sunset.
Writing about it sounds crazy for a POTS kid. I’m not healthy, but I FELT healthy. The miles I walked in shifting sands made my legs really fit. That, combined with my anti embolism stockings and that fact I drowned myself with gatorade meant the blood got to my head most of the time. We passed out every night at 8-9, woke up at 5. I had a regular sleep pattern my body fell into naturally. It was literally tailor fit for me. I swear I didn’t dream it. The funny thing is, I almost felt like I did. I would have continuous de ja vu moments from the years spent dreaming about adventure and my goals. Every walk, every run, was aimed towards this. Literally, that was sometimes the only thing that kept me from sitting on the ground panting. That drive and desire that I was going to beat this, POTS is curable and I wanted to live. And not just live like I had been doing, in stolen moments from my syndrome, but rather brilliantly and endlessly.
No, it wasn’t the pyramids.
But that wall I discovered? Those features that littered the body of my pit? They are more dear to my heart than all the treasures of Giza and Luxor. I’m not sure when it was, maybe week 3? But I woke up. I remember having a lecture in archaeozoology and writing furious notes late at night. I started jotting down notes in the margin of my pages, to memorize the human skeleton (and have dad help me tell apart separate bones), to keep up with my Greek, to study. And I realized I was looking forward to my future. That I craved more knowledge, how I wanted to work for it! That it was well within my grasp. I could do something to obtain it. That I was in the middle of an adventure.
You see, I had always sort of pictured adventure like a train. Something far off, something I couldn’t have right now. Something where everything good happened. Because in all the books I love, murder, mystery, intrigue, it all happens on a train. It’s the crux. I love trains, the first one I went on was an overnight to London from Glasgow and I couldn’t sleep all night I was so excited. That was a segway: but roller coasters, trains, excavations, they were dream stuff for me.
It was weird, incredibly weird, to realize that I was getting something I had worked for. I value working hard higher than winning or obtaining results. Before I was sick, I didn’t. All that mattered to me were the things I could write on paper. You can’t write walking for 5 minutes a day as your exercise on your resume. I read somewhere it takes something like 4 times the amount of energy for a person with POTS to stand as it does for a healthy one. Four. It’s like we’re broken marionettes.
Broken marionettes that are expected to stand.
I was talking about Pie and SATs yesterday, and talking about my experience sometimes working with no foreseeable benefits. She asked what was the point of killing yourself for a D in Biology when you knew you weren’t improving? And I said, Because I had the satisfaction of knowing I tried my hardest. I dunno. It’s the same answer I gave myself when I did 10 min of walking on the elliptical. Or when I did morning stretches and toe lifts that didn’t seem to get any easier. Because you have to ask yourself that every day, every moment. You have to sort of have faith that someday it will get easier. That you’re working for something. Even if you can’t see it just yet.
But I got to see it. And taste it, and I know that it’s real. You’ll get better. You will live your dreams.
And have awkwardly tan knee caps.
Because sometimes, things like anti embolism stockings leave a mark. I like to think they make you incredibly interesting. I think my favorite remark was, “Oh. I thought you were just the kind of person who wore flamboyant, high socks.” When hearing something like that, all you can do is lean back and laugh. Oh, and no those aren’t my legs. They’re someones else’s, but I was so intrigued that knee tans were such a widespread problem I thought I’d insert it. I didn’t exactly imagine I’d have to do make all these weird additions to my dream like 4 bottles of gatorade a day and wearing boys shirts so we wouldn’t desiccate out in the sun. But ah well, what would be the fun in life if we could plan it?
Anyways, I am happy. And I wanted to make sure you knew that you will be too. Pie and I are being drowned by babysitting opportunities and working at the library, so thats why our posts have been infrequent at best. Fear not, several are in the makings.
Be Well!
PS: Also, I found these on the internet awhile ago. But here are some nerdy archaeology memes.
Heehee, Pie has started to call me India Jones
and the last one is strangely accurate:
PPS: I also read a great book called “The Monsters of Templeton” about an archaeology student and a small town. It’s brilliant. Anyone with an ounce of soul and a spot of humor should read it. That is all.