In the first century A.D., Saint Paul the Apostle was tied to a stone pillar in Pafos, Cyprus and given 39 lashes as punishment for preaching Christianity to the locals. In 1989 A.D., as a disorderly 13-year-old, I sat atop that very pillar and casually smoked a cigarette while two like-minded friends sprawled out on the surrounding Roman mosaics and blew smoke rings into the air.
The ruins are fenced off now. There’s a plaque to commemorate the ancient ordeal and the site has been added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. But straddling that piece of ancient archaeology remains a fond memory for me. Not because of the youthful sense of entitlement. Because of the nostalgia and experience of living in a time and culture where there were few rules. Continue reading