Saturday, August 13, 2011

Do Pots Have Feelings?

Before I joined the Foreign Service, I was an archaeologist. Specifically, I specialized in American Indians from North and South Carolina.

My research was on the pottery of the Catawba. My tribe was a part of the Greater Catawba Confederacy, and as a result, there was intermarriage between our peoples. Although I am a PeeDee Indian, I carry Catawba blood in my veins.

So my research has always felt personal for me. I am fond of Indian pottery in general, and I have the works of artists from a number of different tribes. But is my collection of Catawba pottery that I love, that speaks to me.

I took my whole collection to Jerusalem. But I was less aware then of how easy it is to lose your stuff. Since then, my apartment was robbed and I lost some things that were precious and irreplaceable. I had friends lose shipments of belongings, including cars, dropped in the ocean, dropped at port, or simply vanished. Others have had looters far less kind that those who robbed my place, destroy everything they own.

So these days, I have not only the desire to take less with me, but also to protect some of the things I have that mean the most to me. So while I know things can be destroyed in storage, by fire, mold or what have you, I feel the danger is less there than in travelling across the ocean with me.

So I have selected only a couple pieces of my collection to have with me.

And I feel bad about it.

I feel bad about locking away the rest of my collection in storage, unseen and unadmired for years.

It feels like I am hurting their feelings.

Is it just me (or just my impending move) or the is it the Foreign Service that is crazy making?


Z. Marie said...

In our family, we talk a lot about "our people." And although it's usually a joke, I think "our people" would understand your situation. You're taking some of it with you and protecting the rest for later. We can assume our ancestors never dreamed of the kinds of "protection" we have available, though.
Is that a canoe in the photo? I love those!

Digger said...

Yes, that is a canoe Evelyn George made. I have five or six canoes.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's the impending move or the Foreign Service making you crazy...I feel exactly the same way about some of my books and artwork. I don't even have my 1st assignment yet (flag day is in T-5 days!) and I am already dreading having to choose which of my beloved paintings will accompany me across the globe.

R.Macd said...

I have some old South American treasures of my father's and a number of pieces of art that I am unwilling to lose too. I am 4 weeks from beginning my A-100 course and am going through this now. Is it worth loaning the pieces to a museum or university so others can admire them?

sclawgrl said...

I struggle with this too. I'm going to spend a significant portion of my life for the next twenty five years or so traveling - I decided to bring it all with me so I can enjoy it. I'd be sad to lose my Grandma's crystal, but I'd be sad to leave it in a box unused until I'm retired. Now, I bring it out when I entertain. I think I'll keep taking it to the relatively "safe" places and leave it when I go to rougher spots - although you can be robbed in Europe as easily as Africa.