Romance. WTF is that? Beats me. It’s the stuff of fiction. I’m not even convinced the extraordinarily contrived marriage proposals on YouTube are real. Who really hires dancers and a marching band to propose?
And then there’s the combination of romance and archaeology. Fiction + a social science based on evidence of the past. Seems ill-fit. And it is.
First of all, a person needs time in their life for romance, or so the stories say. And even if you don’t, romance comes along and slaps you up-side the head. Supposedly.
The only thing that smacks me up-side the head these days is how many safety courses I have to take before I can do my fieldwork. It’s painful to realize that the only “safety” oil & gas companies are concerned with is the safety of their very liable asses. As for time, when I do manage to leave the office, I spend the rest of my waking hours trying to shut off the perpetual “what-if” scenarios bouncing around in my head. The worst part is that I’ve found a use for my dreaded Blackberry: I use it in my “downtime” to email messages to myself things I need to remember to do at work — follow-up with client regarding need for H2S course for all crew; double-check budget for disbursement percentage; check on one-way flights from Fort McMurray to Grande Prairie.
If I had time, then there’d be the plight of finding the right person. Again, the stories say that for two people to be successfully romantically inclined toward each other, they must have a certain amount in common. Hence, why archaeologists often find themselves hitched to other archaeologists. However, as mentioned above, time is the issue. If one of you is home, the other is not. Rinse, reverse, and repeat for eight months of the year. And then there’s the ultimate question: do you really want to spend all of your free time talking about work? If archaeology is what you have in common, then that’s what you talk about. 24/7. Ugh. There is more to life than archaeology, I’m sure of it. The problem is finding the time to explore that, and then finding someone to explore that with.
I have several friends who have written me off. They don’t understand the archaeology consulting lifestyle — the time away from home, the stress, the management and negotiation of schedules and clients. It’s not that my friends don’t love me; they just don’t understand. So, to them, I’ve fallen off the map. If this is the best I can expect from friends, what is to be expected from an intimate, life-long companion? And family? The only reason my father gets it is because he’s spent time in the oil-patch. The rest of my family is in the same boat as my friends.
Archaeology in fiction may seem glamorous and romantic. In real life, romance in archaeology is the dancers and marching band in the YouTube park proposal — short-lived, predictable, and something better left in the field with all the other wild stories.