Tuesday, December 18, 2012


 Approaching the latest Y2K doomsday frenzy, I thought it appropriate to post an old blurb written on my 25th birthday, following a trip to the San Diego National History Museum to see the Pompeii exhibit.

Today I spent my quarter of a century admiring beautifully crafted, every day items like glass canisters and clay water jugs, still magnificent in their simple design after spending 1,100 years under ash. The gold jewelry fashionable and very much like bracelets today with trendy charms and heavy clasps. Pressed gold coins, weights for measure and tools, impeccably preserved and actually quite impressive for their time. 
What really made me spin was seeing the casts of these people, essentially frozen, concrete displays of death, directly before my eyes. The first, a smaller framed, lean man crouched with his knees to his chest, found alone in a corner of a gymnasium. The second, a woman laying face down with her tunic dress pulled up over her face, exposing her naked ass. She was discovered close to a boat dock where people had fled in a last minute attempt to escape. Next a man and woman together, presumably a married couple, found with the male reaching towards the woman, trying to cover her face with his handkerchief. 
A pig. 
A curled, burning dog. 
A slave found, brain exploded from the fumes, left as a useless nuisance to the fleeing families of Mount Vesuvius. Shackles still to his ankles... stretched out on the floor as if he had accepted his death with an embrace, a surrender to die in such a terrible, legendary way.
The corpses to me showed a successful tribe of people; a wellfed, progressive, fully functioning society that took pride in their lives enough to form colored glass into jewels and treasure inexpensive costume jewelry made of clay. Enough to have an "ornatrix" or an "attendant" to style their hair. blows. my. mind.
We are not far from that.
In fact, a thriving economy exists to this day living on the same threshold of this dangerous mount. It is a proven fact that a disaster this size will happen again. So much so that the Italian government has spent the last 10 years offering Forty Thousand free dollars to families who are willing to remove themselves from that living area. The strange part is, only about 2,000 people a year actually do it. The locals are so dedicated to their environment, and so devoted to the danger and appeal of the volcano, they basically worship it.

Touching, tragic, grounding, to see humans on their last breath, still bejeweled, still clutching their loves, being punished, running, knees to their face in fear, backed against a wall. Nowhere to run. No one coming on any boat to save them. No avoidance. Just life, ending.
A truly fine thing to experience on a birthday.