That brisk March morning we were on the bus, after a sleepless plane ride across the Atlantic Ocean–one trip that the R.M.S. Titanic never made, New England to England–bundled in a scarf and fake wool Civil War style peacoat and eyes drooping but unable to stop watching the treadmill of treeless hills and yellow-green plains that stretched North, North to Hadrian’s Wall as we rushed West on a bus toward Stonehenge.
Fenced and protected from curious hands, built over a span of several thousand years first by perfect circle ditches and small stones and then a large inner ring and finally, the tabletop style of the outer ring. The tour guide bellowed that it was built on a magnetic field, that all of humanity used to be connected with nature until electricity disrupted the Earth’s natural hum and we were left disconnected with not just the Earth, the seasons, the Circle-of-Life, but with ourselves.
Stonehenge was going to be one hell of a spiritual experience, where you could see things clearly and connect with the deepest forces of the natural world, the tour guide proclaimed. The blustery, dry morning so windy it squeezed my eyes and cheeks and left the tips of my ears red and cold, well… that was nothing compared to the mysticism that would be Stonehenge. Stonehenge would change my life forever. Stonehenge would bestow on me the wisdom of 10,000 years of humanity. I couldn’t begin to imagine the knowledge that might result from being in such close (preferably full-body) contact with sacred ground and the magnetic hum of the Earth. Surely it meant that I would be able to understand. God would speak directly to me via Stonehenge. Even the chains and barriers between me and the Stones could not destroy the humbling force that was Stonehenge and Earth’s magnetic fields.
I pictured going for a sunrise jog down the plains and stopping at Stonehenge to meditate and enjoy the peaceful English countryside. I would sit in the shadows of the massive structure on an abandoned, silent hill and all of my questions would be answered. My dead father’s ghost would come down via Stonehenge and we would walk as a cat winds itself between the legs of its owners between the archways of the Stones. I had a lot to say to my father spanning the last four years and he had a lot to say to me, surely. If there was some way to reach those impossible places, Stonehenge was it. Stonehenge and me, till death do us part.
The bus rumbled down a hill toward the parking lot and I almost missed it–Stonehenge, on a tiny island of grass surrounded by a tall chain-link fence and hundreds of irreverent tourists bumbling around the circle taking stupid pictures rocking out and pretending to be leaning on Stonehenge, the grassy isle obscured by an asphalt walkway that cut right through the ditches, the Stones small and pathetic in between two busy English streets on Salisbury plain.