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My mama said to me on occasion, "There is so much more to life outside of Rogers, Arkansas."
I remember when she would say this, I would just stare at her, then stare at the ground, shaking my head while sipping a juice pouch, and continue to play on the broken-down, highly dangerous tire-swing in the backyard.
"No, mother," I probably thought to myself, "This little town and all of its toys and juice pouches are ALL THAT MATTER IN LIFE."
I figured things out slowly: puberty found me in the years to come and beat the heck out of my rational thinking, then exhausted from that circus, I developed an interest in higher education and attended university. (Some rational thinking came back, but not all).
And it was then that I realized that I always wanted to get away. I wanted to set myself apart; I wanted to discover things for myself. The little girl who's mother told her about all the more exciting things in the world really just craved to find those things and not settle for just anything.
As a child, I saw something about Stonehenge on TV once. It was a romantically put-together docu-something that advertised how touring Stonehenge and all the other interesting wonders in the world as "Proof You Are Really Making it in Life Because You Are Making Use of Your Youthful Time Traveling and Being Hipster About it."
I dunno. That's just the feeling I got as a child who was, and still is, an INFJ. (All the aesthetics....all the small details....all the feels...heart swooning....blah).
I felt that I must find this Stonehenge to tell myself "Wow, Jamie...You are here. You really made it in life."
At 22 years old, with my Tin House literary magazine from an overly-priced book store (cough..Barnes and Noble), my flimsy plane ticket, an enthused but not overly excited husband, and my inner child and her obsessive desire to get the heck out of America, I finally set out of Houston to London Heathrow Airport for ADVENTURE and the ideas of different, overly edited Insta pictures in mind soon to be posted.
It was a few days after Christmas, so, A.K.A flu season. (Foreshadow much?)
Before I begin, I would just like to recommend to all—save your money and buy a first-class ticket for any and all transatlantic flights. Your numb booty and claustrophobic panic attacks will thank me later. (Some of you are thinking, well, I'm not now nor have ever been claustrophobic...so stop being dramatic).
Yes, yes you are claustrophobic. Don't sass me.
Day 1 and I stepped into England with a desire to just die.
(I know, I know...I am being dramatic about that one).
I became deathly ill of a cold during the ten hour plane ride and couldn't muster the strength to continue further into the bus station to transport to our nice, but within a strict "we are only 22 and really don't have money" kind of budget, hotel. I did finally find the strength, somewhere. Not sure where.
Drew took all luggage, I moaned and achingly shivered around the bus station like a freaky chicken. Or...just like a tired five-year-old. Either depiction would work.
He took my arm often, leading me in the right path so I didn't whisk or wander away in a feverish delirium. "We need to stay together, everything here is so...vague," he would say often. "Mmph," I would answer in return.
I WOULD NOT let this newfound cold ruin this awe-inspiring trip and told my lungs and achy bones to get their crap together so I can see the stones in a healthy-manner. (Although, we had other things planned of course: Canterbury Cathedral, Dover, a couple castles, maybe some royalty? No. And just London in general).
Sitting on a grey-hound type bus with seats more comfortable than the plane, I instantly fell asleep both days while the tour-guide was giving his spiel during the down-time before we got to our destinations.
"Wow, you are so rude, look at you...drool dripping down your coat and mind in a sleepy fog. You paid so much money to listen to this guy and you are sleeping with your head bobbing around and flopping over like a freaky chicken," I often thought to myself in my sick stupor.
Word(s) of the Day: Freaky Chicken
But it is, how do they say it?.....what it is.
Then. The. Stones.
We were finally there in Wiltshire. AH. Furry and cozy little sheep were speckled all over the sickly sweet green rolling hills. I may or may not have thought about kidnapping one to take hostage in a warm place to gently place my head on and fall asleep.
I wrapped my snot infused Target-scarf around my feverish neck, smiled painfully at Drew, took my Stonehenge day-pass out of the guide's hand, and scanned the entire area...ready to make my presence known to the Stonehenge and all of its glory.
"I, a very sick and cough-y Jamie, will finally see the dang tootin' Stonehenge today," I thought to myself, shivering and moaning, waiting for ANOTHER bus to pick us up to transport us to the site. GEH.
After 456 buses, we made it to the treasured place of my traveling desires. (Okay, just two buses.)
These magical stones are speculated to have been built in the Bronze Age. Like, they are super duper old farts. (The oldest stones erected somewhere near 5,000 years ago).
And this girl finally got to see them. Hopefully looking super hipster like the tourist from the TV docu-something that aired all those years ago.
(Sigh, oh early 2000s...)
Walking around, taking pictures at every angle, making sure not to slip in the mud, we were touring the amazing stones that are still standing after EVERYTHING.
It was a dream come true and I made it happen. I discovered something that I thought would only be a pipe-dream.
I finally WENT somewhere and it is because I always had someone telling me that I could. I was told that there was more out there to see than my hometown.
This world is mine too, why waste the opportunity to see it?
No, but, if we could get real for a second: wear a dang hospital mask during every flight you ever take. You will look weird... like all "Patient Zero" from some massive contagion outbreak zombie movie and what not, but you will definitely not regret it.
I couldn't just share one picture.