I thought they would be bigger in person. That’s not to say I wasn’t impressed. Who wouldn’t be impressed looking at the monolithic slabs of ancient rock, nothing precarious about their stolid formation? But I did expect to feel smaller, overshadowed by their prehistoric stature. Instead, I just felt the average wash of curious amazement.
I also expected to be able to walk right up into the stone circle and touch the stones. As I walked the gravel pathway that encircled the stones and gazed across the distance, I felt as if I was just observing an artifact in a museum. I had wanted to press my pale palm flat against the rough grey rock, wanted to stand beneath the stones and let their weight surround my body. I had hoped for transformation.
Instead, we fought our way against the wind, giddy from the 4 am wake up call. We snapped pictures from every angle while we waited from a group to pass that spoke English and who we could ask to take a picture of us, a picture that came out as four girls caught up in a storm of flyaway hairs. Our look into the past, into a world we could hardly fathom, ended as we wound our way back into the gift shop. 100 square feet of Stonehenge branded mugs, pencils, magnets, shirts, perhaps even a toothbrush had we looked hard enough.
Stonehenge was not our only stop that day, oh no. It was a whirlwind tour of Southern England hotspots for us. Thatched roof cottages were skimmed by on our way to an afternoon in Bath, where we bathed in the sunlight and ate hot sandwiches on a bustling sidewalk. While everyone else toured the Roman baths, we explored the Jane Austen museum and bought far too much tea and fudge.
An hour and a half poke about Oxford was how we ended the day. American universities had nothing on the academic splendor that surrounded us as we wove in and out of decadent libraries and stone courtyards. I like to think our IQs went up just through osmosis of the literary winds that chased us through a museum and of course a cursory stop at a few gift shops.
That night as our bus returned to London we were sleepy but content with our quite structured adventure. The world had been cracked open just a bit wider to us. Of course, as content, as we were, we only craved more.