Our Holy Grail


TH and M Petra announcement pic

This just in: We’re pregnant! (Admiring a newborn in an elevator the other day, I used the collective “we,” saying “we’re also pregnant,” to which the British husband intimated that men who say “we” are tossers. #thankswanker)

As work travel would have it, we were in Jordan heading into the first trimester mark (after which birth announcements are safely made), and thus had opportunities for various belly-grabbing poses in exotic locales.

Among the poses, the pièce de résistance was a pic at the fabled Treasury of Petra—the iconic rose-colored temple carved in rock where Indiana Jones and his father find the Holy Grail in The Last Crusade.

The shot had it all: Seven Wonders of the World backdrop; a location described as a treasury; and a gorgeous wife sauce, framed and shot by the one and only Rowland Scherman, who was with us in Jordan. Her post practically wrote itself: “One trimester of treasure in my treasury, at the Treasury of Petra. We’re having a baby!”

How did B’ham legend, Joe Bar founder, and famed photographer Rowland Scherman happen to be in Petra, you’re asking? He was wowing crowds in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan with his incredible portfolio of American icons, including of course the Grammy-winning shot of Bob Dylan, The Beatles’ first concert in the U.S., and Arthur Ashe driving his Mustang on Route 66. I’ve seen Rowland’s spiel in Shanghai, Jaipur, Dubai, and now at the Dead Sea, and it gets better with every telling. #anothercolumn

Back to the bouncing baby bub. As I write this, we’re 14 weeks into the adventure. The baby (we know the gender, but, of course, are waiting for the right opportunity to announce it, perhaps via a “sex party”— so for now I’ll be pronoun neutral) is due mid-January.

My wife, Michelle, is a Type 1 diabetic and has to closely monitor her blood sugar, especially while preggers, and the doctor—a Grecian OBGYN who exudes a very chill and calming vibe—will induce a couple weeks before he or she is due. So we’re looking at Yule Tide bundle of joyous poop-ville.

It’s super cool that we’re at Petra, of course. Petra was founded a couple hundred years before Christ by nomadic Arabs called Nabateans. The famous treasury is one of many tombs carved into the red sandstone. We overhear a guide telling some tourists that carving in sandstone is relatively easy as far as stone carving goes, given that the treasury appears to be the facade of a temple that spans the height of the mountain. Rowland looks at me and says, laughing, “Sandstone is easy? So what you’re saying is that this isn’t really a big deal.”

But it is. It’s one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and since its inception, it has been home to Romans, Byzantines, and most recently nomadic Bedouins. It was revealed to the western world in 1812 by a Swiss explorer who snuck into the prohibited site dressed as a Bedouin, speaking fluent Arabic.

Petra has a B’ham connection, too. Sarah Parcak, the Indiana Jones of UAB, recently announced the discovery of a giant platform at Petra detected using hi-res satellite imagery and drone photography. Parcak believes the platform was used by the public and perhaps for ceremonial functions. She’s a UAB rock star.

The walk into Petra is on a downward slope on which the Nabateans built aqueducts for irrigation. Just like the pregnancy, every step down the rabbit hole (#phrasing!) brings small discoveries and insights (the bub is the size of a peach this week and is thumb-sucking). Indy and his dad (#spotonmoneypenny) found the Holy Grail (#youchosewisely), which according to the Da Vinci Code wasn’t a chalice but actually represented the womb of Mary Magdalen.

The trials and travails of the treasure in our grail (#eternallife) will be the greatest adventure of all. Cue the Raiders theme.

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