I have a little house near Luxor. It’s tiny, really, a diminutive whitewashed house with only a few rooms. But it’s cool in the heat of day, and blood red roses climb the walls. The Valley of the Kings is within walking distance. What more do I need in life? As a pretend archeologist, more specifically, a pretend Egyptologist, the location of my little home suits me perfectly. I spend most winters in Egypt. I’ve had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with a rather interesting family of Egyptologists who live close by: the Emersons.
I could spend so much time discussing them all; but will have to be satisfied with only describing the matriarch of the family: Amelia Peabody Emerson. Amelia has black hair and steel-grey eyes. Instead of a long, floor-length skirt, as most nineteenth century women are accustomed to wearing; she often dons a split skirt, practically the equivalent of trousers. To complete her ensemble she adds sturdy boots, a helmet, and a customized belt that allows her to carry various instruments she considers important, such as tools for picking a lock. These tools come in handy more often than not. Amelia has a penchant for trouble, just as much as she has a knack of discovering unheard-of treasures beneath the Egyptian sand.
Amelia is so much fun to be with that I follow her everywhere: from the streets of Luxor and Cairo to the Valley of the Kings, from dark tombs filled with the stench of bat guano to the luxurious ballroom of Shepheard's. Amelia is rather witty, and she never lets me down. Here are a few reasons why I enjoy spending time with her. I quote:
"Five years of marriage have taught me that even if one is unamused by the (presumed) wit of one's spouse, one does not say so."
"There is nothing like continued proximity to strip away the veils of romance."
"I always say there is nothing more comfortable or commodious than a tomb."
"A woman's instinct, I always feel, supersedes logic."
"No woman really wants a man to carry her off; she only wants him to want to do it."
"Though I had slept only a few hours, I felt quite fresh and full of ambition. Righteous indignation has that effect on my character."
"When one is striding bravely into the future one cannot watch one's footing."
"All is fair in love, war and journalism."
"When I am in one of my philosophical moods, I am inclined to wonder whether all families are as difficult as mine."
In my imaginary Egypt, I’ve followed Amelia for the past several years, and enjoyed her wry and often pithy comments. I’ve learned much about the history of ancient Egypt and the state of the country in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. More than ever, I wish to be able to go in person to Egypt to see the things that I’ve only read about, but judging by the current state of affairs, that’s not what I consider to be a Very Good Idea. So, for now, I will continue to enjoy the friendship of the amazing Amelia, brainchild of Elizabeth Peters, (aka Barbara Mertz, PhD in Egyptology and a fantastic writer), and go on living in the Egypt that exists only in my head. :-)