Letters from the Underworld: Greece, Twin Selves and Bilocation

An archaeologist's favorite mysterious places
My head may be in my office, but my heart is in Greece. 

As I sit at my desk on these long summer days, watching the sun's light hover in the sky until 9 p.m. I try to concentrate on my work. My fingers hit the keyboard, tapping out sentences, paragraphs, chapters. So my head is definitely here, in the work. But my heart

is here. 

It's like I was given two selves at birth. No, I'm not a Gemini, but I feel like one a lot of the time. 

I wonder if anyone else ever feels like they exist in two places at once? Some years ago, not long before this photo was taken (sitting with a friend on Ithaka, taking a break from the excavation) I had moved to Greece as a student. Living abroad alone for the first time, away from home, I had powerful feelings of homesickness. I was terribly sad and lost in this foreign place; I didn't understand the language and all the other people on the program seemed so much more together and happy than I was. I was scared but I didn't feel I could express it to anyone, so I kept it all inside.

One day as I was looking out the balcony door in the apartment I shared with three other girls, I had the sudden sensation that I was in my back yard in Minnesota.....really, physically there. Not in my apartment in Athens - a jarring foreign environment with the acid light streaming through the windows, the loud caw cawing voice of the vegetable vendor wafting up from the street, the sad peeling walls in my bare room. But home - really home - safe with my family, surrounded by a familiar world. 

Yes, I was under severe stress. Psychologists would probably explain it away as a profound case of homesickness. But I know I wasn't hallucinating. If you want something badly enough, mysterious things can happen.

Decades later, the tables have turned. Now as I sit at my desk, I regularly conjure up Greece. All I need to do is smell the mountain tea that sits above my desk or the handful of sage I bring home every time I return from Ithaka, and I am 


Which makes me wonder — 

what part of our experience in life is a reflection.........

and what part is real? 

Popular Posts