My family are descendents from the volcanic disasters in the city of Pompeii. Our lineage goes back to Terentius Neo, a baker who lived in downtown Pompeii in 79 AD, the year of the occurance of the volcano.

As a result, when I was growing up, we had to go to Pompeii every year and pay our respects. It’s not that odd of a thing. Many descendents return to the city on August 24th, the anniversary of the disaster. They dress in authentic clothing from the time and stand in the place where their relatives were thought to be at the time of the great event. I didn’t like wearing the tunic though. I felt like I was wearing a dress. I’d complain to my dad and he’d say, “It’s not a dress, it’s a tunic!!”

Anyway, my dad would be dressed as Terentius. He’d stand on V St. and get out dough and begin kneeding. My sister and mom and I portrayed his helpful family members. My mom would go, “Terentius, there’s a leak in the roof, can you please fix it before the rains come?” He’d grunt, and go, “Woman, is there no end to your requests?” and then go up onto the roof (it was a ladder he rented from the locals).

Once on the roof, he saw the lava approaching and would yell at us to run. But we couldn’t hear over the erruptions of the volcano. Then we had to pretend we were baked alive by lava. My sister and I liked that because we got to scream and roll around on the ground. My mom prefered a silent death. She said stoicism was honorable.

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