Having a permanent job with a field project is a dream. Someone, however, has to be in Mission Control, and this can mean not being able to go to the field. This summer, that’s me. And the FOMO (fear of missing out) is intense, both for this project and my previous project, Poggio Civitate.
Summer of 2014 was the first year I had not traveled to Europe at all since 2000. I started work with Poggio Civitate (near Siena, Italy) in 2001 and returned every summer for two months (2006 and 2008 were exceptions due to things like taking German and having a real job), but I was able to cobble together other trips. Summer 2014 was the first year I’d relinquished control over cataloguing, documentation, and managing the lab at PC, and I had not trained a replacement. I did not anticipate how emotional this would be, and I cried. A lot. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. As difficult, frustrating, and demoralizing as field work can be, it is a part of who I am, and sitting in an office knowing my friends and colleagues were digging away without me was brutal. And of course, they made some major new discoveries after the previous two years of slogging through what seemed like it might have been a bridge to nowhere full of amorphous terracottas and slag.
Similarly, I had Sardis FOMO with which to contend. I’d never been to Turkey before, and because I began my job in March of 2014, I was too late to get on the excavation permit. I spent that summer, often alone, in an office in Somerville, MA, looking at photos and plans of things I’d never seen in person, all while fielding data questions and requests from the team in Turkey.
Last year I had the privilege of visiting both Poggio Civitate and Sardis for two weeks, and I was so, so happy. I didn’t care that I wasn’t there for the full season on either end. The opportunity to check in with all my colleagues and see the new discoveries in Italy, then to finally see Sardis, its storerooms, its monuments, and its dirt put me over the moon. I was connected again to what I love, and it made all the difference.
This summer, due to heavy publication loads, a retiring co-worker, and flat-out too many folks on the compound in Turkey (that’s what happens when Ankara sends 800 skeletons excavated in the 1960s back and you have to get a forensic anthropology team to process them), I’m in Somerville for the duration. And now that I’ve been to Sardis and met more of the people, the FOMO is renewed. And then some. The silver lining, however, is that I will be traveling to Italy in August for Poggio Civitate’s 50th excavation year anniversary celebrations. My favorite people, both ancient and modern, as well as my favorite dirt are only two months away.
So it’s wrangling data, FTP-ing site plans, getting all the info I can out of my retiring colleague, and requesting puppy photos for the time being. I know I’ll be in the field again soon enough.