LUXOR: The Mystery of Chicago House

Nobody bothered me as I stood there. All the touts knew me and knew I had my people. They were nothing but friends and strangers now. I was no longer a source of revenue. I was just a man. I was just Ben standing beside the Nile. I really don’t know how long I was there, but as I did, my life began to pass by in my memories. I was back at Egyptian Treasures with my dad and Donald, talking about Cairo and dreaming of treasure. I was on an ancient computer in elementary school furiously printing pages from the Theban Mapping Project. I was in Barnes and Noble buying discounted books. I was in the Louvre staring at hieroglyphs. I was screaming at textbooks. I was dreaming of the future. I was back on a rooftop in Giza with Lady M. I was wandering through temples with Abdul. I was breaking the Ramadan fast at the Khan el-Khalili. I was dreaming of digging. I was in raptures at the thought of the basements of the Egyptian Museum. I was drinking Stella again with Hassan. I was back by the Nile. And I was an Egyptian through and through.

Read Article →

THINGS I LOVED/HATED THIS WEEK #184

There are so many wonderful things to see and to do. I will go to every museum, I will eat street tacos, I will sit in the squares and listen to music, I will walk through dimly lit streets and think of danger, I will go to Aztec ruins and climb pyramids, I will sit in my cozy apartment and write, I will shop for local goods, I will figure out what Mezcal is, I will find favorite bakeries and tortilla shops, I will listen to mariachi bands, I will gorge myself on chocolates, I will poison myself with the water, I will have the time of my life. It’ll be great and good and I just cannot wait to hop on the plane and discover a new world.

Read Article →

LUXOR: The Ghost at Esna

I was lost in reverie when the temple first came into sight. And once my eyes had latched onto the yellow-brown stone, I felt the most inordinate connection. It wasn’t like I had been here before, or anything like what Lady M would have discussed at midnight on a rooftop in Cairo, this was something absolutely new. It was relief. I know that doesn’t make tremendous sense, and I can’t claim to understand the sensations I felt there myself, but I took great comfort in the Temple of Esna.

Read Article →

THINGS I LOVED/HATED THIS WEEK #183

Still I dared to dream. I didn’t dare tell Jessica that we were almost assuredly not getting tickets because she would have had a meltdown and gone into a psychotic and depressive episode that she might never emerge from. So, when I was bizarrely lucky enough to get a code the night before, I was extra nervous. So many didn’t get codes. I did, though. Then the morning came. Ten o’clock came. Reader, I have rarely been more afraid.

Read Article →

LUXOR: The Best of All Birthdays

I don’t mind aging so much. I joke about it frequently, but I feel as if I was “eighty before I was eighteen.” I was a grumpy old man for the majority of my life. I didn’t do anything terribly exciting or socialize or have a dozen boyfriends or wake up on a riverbank with no memory of getting there. Honestly, I can’t say that I regret that, but there are times when I wonder what I missed out on during the course of my tame youth. I feel younger now than I did back then. I still haven’t woken up on a riverbank, but that’s just fine. I have woken up in five star hotels, so that’s better.

Read Article →

LUXOR: The Karnak Conundrum

Coming to the end, a well-uniformed security guard approached me and told me that I was sure to get a wife now. I smiled and chuckled to myself and replied, “Inshallah.” This pleased him inordinately, and so I was led on a long walk with him into more to those off-limit sites for a bit of baksheesh. Everybody’s charmingly corrupt in Egypt. He led me into a chamber with something to do with Alexander and went to find a man who was going to give me great good luck. I shrugged again, any luck was better than no luck, after all.

Read Article →