Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

My favorite Egyptian king — and he’s not far from home.

Disbelief doesn’t come close to describing what I felt when I saw him that first time and every time since. I learned about him while researching Egyptian history for, and wrote of him in, Like A Blue Thread. I had a National Geographic subscription eons ago, so I had a trove of articles to read, plus the books I owned. The internet was not what it is today, so my online research was limited, which meant that I had to dig into the articles and read through them to glean what I needed.

I have liked Egyptian history and art since I fell in love with Egypt after seeing Death on the Nile, then during my avid and voracious reading of all Agatha Christie wrote, including non-fiction. Tell Me How You Live impressed me to no end. In the vein of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, whom I began reading by chance — like Naguib Mahfouz. Anyway, I may reread it. It has been decades since I read it.

Egypt is the one place, besides Tahiti and Cuba, that I wish I had visited.

Though, in my mind, I have, because I immersed myself in everything Egypt for so long — which reminds me of my grandfather, who talked about the Holy Land as if he had been. Needless to say, when I went to Israel and spent days in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, I thought of him constantly, as if he were there with me. (Maybe he was? I could only wish.) I love him so.

My passion for Egypt endures. I didn’t go while I traveled the world over for work, as other people had seniority over me, and I never even got the hint of an opportunity to go. But I am grateful for all I did and all I learned, and all the places I visited, the people with whom I worked. One of the most wonderful and fulfilling was work in Israel — though it was at Christmas time, and I was probably asked to go because none of the others would at that time of the year.

I went on a heartbeat.

It was like nothing I ever expected, and many moments of it still live and resound within me.