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York, Pennsylvania, USA
August 13, 2007
Photographs of some of the crew members of Middlesex/ Essex 2007 Archaeology project near Boston, MA
After working until 7:30 PM on Friday the archaeology project was extended into the weekend. Another day of work…the last day of work. So the crew woke up early and strode off into the field for one last go.
I have been on this job outside of Boston for a month; the last day of a project comes with mixed feelings. It feels free to be release back out on to the Open Road without any employment tethers, but at the same time I am leaving the crew with whom I have shared intimate quarters with 24 hours a day for an entire month. The stories, the beer, the jokes are all now just memories and little scribbled notes in my stray notebooks. I always feel sentimental when crews break up and everyone goes their separate ways. I know that I may never cross paths with these people again . . .but then again, if you are weaving the web of a wanderer you are continuously entwined with those that also walk the winding road. Kate and Steve, the road has your souls, we will be meeting again. For the rest of you Archys, I can only hope. Beginnings are little more than endings; endings are little more than beginnings.
So on this last day we went out to a an area aptly name “The Garden Site”- it was a jungle of briers, young trees, and tangles before I cleared it by hand- and laid in our last 1X1 meter test units of the project. All too soon the units were dug, back filled, and I was laying under a tree on the lawn of the hotel wondering where I was going to go next.
I just laid there looking at the clouds streaming by over head, and took sips from a leftover bottle of sake. “I have a line on a job on a fishing boat out of Nantucket,” I said to myself, “I could just go down there and hang out at the old whaling sites until I can get on board.” It sounded nice, but I had a few days to spare before the captain would be ready to sail, and I did not know if I wanted to keep on the bum in such an expensive place as Nantucket has become until he was finally ready (which could be over a week). “I was offered a free ride back to Buffalo with the boss,” I continued my pondering, “but I would have to stick around the hotel in the boss’ room for two nights and an entire day, go to a concert and spend thirty dollars for the ticket, and be socially ‘on’ the entire time.” I could not hold this social obligation out. “Or,” I thought, “I could go back to Philadelphia and run a little more with Mira before I have to slip out of the USA once again.” This sounded good. I missed the old gal anyway, and I could be with her until I got the call from the captain to take the $25 Chinatown bus back up to Boston and onward to the Nantucket seas.
So I stripped down my load- I just tossed away my soiled working clothes, my old battered leaky tent, and everything else that was not essential, and begged my fellow crew members, Kate and Steve, to drop me off in Philly on their way south. Their car was packed full- they are fellow wandering archaeologist and live on the road- and seemed to be a little hesitant as to if there would be enough room for me. So I tried to assure them that I could fit in any sized space that they could make for me. I did not want to again be stuck up in NYC all night watching drug addicts tweaking in Port Authority. So Steve made a small opening for me in the back seat, and I gratefully slipped into it, while bags were then piled on top of me. I was packed in like a piece of luggage but I did not care- I would soon be moving towards a destination. “I have seen just as crowded vehicles,” I began to stammer, “but I have just never been riding in them.” A taste of how the rest of the world travels would only strengthen my resolve. In this stuffed fashion we began rolling towards Philadelphia. I did not worry too much about my rather tight predicament, as I knew that as soon as the car began moving I would fall asleep. Perhaps it is a special ingrained reaction that I acquired from being carted around by my mother when I was a baby, but as soon as I feel the gentle vibrations of a vehicle I immediately fall into dreams.
I awoke for brief intervals during the journey to talk with Kate and Steve about the long honed, but seldom perfected, art of long term romance. They have been together for over two years and seemed to be adequate people to ask advice from. They know how to fight with each other, and I admire them deeply for it. So we talked, and I realized that Mira was just a woman, and all women are crazy. I felt better, and smile that I was moving towards the open arms of my love.
Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. Wade Shepard has written 3594 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
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Wade Shepard is currently in: Astoria, New York