As a child in 1977 I stood in a line with my mother and brother. The line wrapped all the way around the National Gallery of Art in DC and then through miles of interior corridor to see the treasures of a boy king dead millenia ago. We spent almost twelve hours in that line.
Even though we got people to hold our places in line so we could eat, by the time we were at the actual entrance to the exhibit at around 8:00 p.m. I was so exhausted all I wanted to do is go home. It felt like we had waited since the birth of Tutankhamun. My feet hurt. I was hungry again. I did not care about seeing anything at that point. Even the darkness behind the velvet ropes punctuated by shafts of light did not seem to promise anything interesting. At the verge of despair, we were finally allowed in.
I was transported. I wandered around in the exhibit for well over two hours. I forgot I had feet, much less that they hurt. I read every placard. I walked circles around Tutankhamun’s glorious burial mask, ducking under taller people, straining on my tiptoes, peering at it from every angle, entranced with the faience and stones and gold. I stared so long and hard at Selkhet and pectorals, statues and alabaster canopic jars, everything there, that I am surprised the exhibit did not burst into flames. I never wanted to leave.
My mother had to drag me away. I do not think she brought all of me back with her. There is a part of me still circling, staring, dreaming.
Now I make jewelry and write stories of the desert in distant eons. I expect that the boy pharoah would believe it his due. Circles. Gazes. Dreams.