Chasing Victory

I plan to have the Nike of Samothrace in my garden.

Let me see if I can explain this without sounding like a complete and utter nerd . . . Well, no, I can’t. So I’ll just own up. When I was a child—we’re talking ages 7 through about 11—my idea of fun during the summer break was to choose a topic and research it extensively at the local library. I would check out stacks and stacks of books on whatever subject I’d chosen, and I’d keep notebooks of information until, at the end of the summer, I would write a lengthy report. These reports were not just reiterations of what I’d learned, though; I sprinkled them with my own ideas about the matter at hand. And sometimes I’d also write stories.

You see, my love of writing in any and all forms began very early.

So the Nike of Samothrace came up one summer when I was studying ancient Greek and Roman culture and mythology. Now, I’ve always loved classical history (minored in it as an undergrad), and I’ve always loved angels (because I think they’re pretty—not cherubs, though, which I find irritating). And to a seven-year-old girl, the Nike of Samothrace, though headless, embodies an ethereal beauty. So while I loved many of the ancient statues I witnessed in all those books, the Nike held a special place in my heart. Angel + Goddess, it occupied the sweet spot in the Venn Diagram of my soul. (Yes, I really did just say that. I am a nerd.)

That might have been enough, but then my summer sitter (the woman who watched me during the summer while my parents worked) took her church youth group, all high schoolers, on a tour of UT Austin, and since she couldn’t just ditch me, I got to go too. The campus made quite an impact on me, but I was especially wowed by the Harry Ransom Center. They had a Gutenberg Bible, for one thing. And also: a plaster cast of the Nike of Samothrace.

When I saw that, I vowed I would attend UT. (And, yes, I did. After being accepted at places like Oberlin and UCLA, I still went to UT. When I get something in my head, folks, I don’t let go easily.)

When I was 22, I visited the Louvre for the first time, and I only had one item on my agenda. The Mona Lisa? Bah. My goal was to see the Nike of Samothrace. And when I got to that staircase . . . Well, I almost wept, I was so happy to see her.

So now we’ve come to the point where I admit I’ve always dreamed of the kind of yard and garden where I can have benches and statues. And that will become a reality for me at the end of May. So I’ve been looking at websites featuring various fountains and statues and bistro sets, &c. And I found one that has a Nike of Samothrace. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before to have her for my very own. But now that I’ve realized I can, I’m determined to, as they say in the ads, just do it.

I only hope a headless, winged woman in the yard doesn’t frighten the kids.

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