This story was submitted anonymously to the Stories of Travel collection as part of the May SEEQ sessions.
I’ve been very lucky. I had a career which had me traveling out of the country quite often to film TV commercials. This trip took me to Paris, London, Devon, Clavelly and Portsmouth. Not as glamorous as it sounds. Very early mornings and very late nights, lots of bus travel on dark, old roads. One destination where we stopped to eat was a very small town outside of Clavelly. There was an old church in this town. We wandered in and sat on benches upon which generations of British families worshipped from as early at the 1500s. I wandered outside in the very dark night to have a few minutes by myself, not surrounded by my work mates when I saw this stone, a tall stone a bit like an upright slab from Stonehenge. It drew me to it. Someone from the town happened by and I called to him to ask what this stone was for. He said it was the only remnant from the original church that had stood there. He went on his way and I saw that there was a date carved into the stone, pretty faint, as the years had taken their toll. The date was 11 AD. 11 AD. I had never been that close to anything that old before outside of a museum. Certainly not in NYC whose recorded history, while old for the U.S., went back only about 4 or 500 years. I placed both of my hands on the stone and tried to feel the history. My God. This stone had been there when the Magna Carta was signed. Through the Hundred Years War, the discovery of electricity, the automobile, WWI, WWII…I even imagined I might be breathing in the very cells of some of the men and women who lived and died over all those years…admittedly got a bit carried away. I looked around the town and imagined how different my life would have been had I been born there instead of in NYC. I also realized that I lived in a very young country. And the only way I could grow into the kind of person I wanted to be was to continue traveling and getting to know people who are not like me. I realized that I, and America, still had a lot to learn.