What can I say about such a whirlwind adventure? There have been countless museums, amazing lectures, hoards of bugs familiar and new, and unearthed treasures (even if they don’t shimmer like gold). There have been late nights, long stories, and family-like friendships. Jokes I’ll remember to the end of my days, lego cards I’ll probably lose before I get out the door, and memories I’ll forever hold close to my heart.
It was Seneca who said that every beginning comes from another beginning’s end. With the close of this trip, these words ring true. It was true when I arrived here, but never has it felt more obvious to me than now.
Beginnings are easy. They’re exciting, shiny, new, with the world ahead of me. Endings… well, those are another story. Saying goodbye is never easy. So instead, this time around I have chosen to look at this the way Seneca did, as a new beginning.
This isn’t the end of tea time, digging, or getting covered in mud. There will be more jokes, more rounds of Heads Up, more movies, and more biscuits. There are more chances to excavate in my future. I have learned so much over the last five weeks, and I’m taking those lessons with me. I’ll take them to future excavations. I’ve learned how to properly use a trowel, and empty a wheelbarrow, how to tell what’s bone, what’s pottery, how they are sorted, cleaned, and classified. Beyond that, I have learned how to let my hair down a little more and let people really get to know me.
So yes, for me this is goodbye, for now. But I leave with trowel in hand and happiness in my heart knowing that this end is merely the beginning of my next adventure. The archaeological world has not seen the last of me, and hopefully neither has Vindolanda. As far as my fellow Westerners, there is no question that we’ll see more of each other.