Sunday, November 15, 2009

Foreign Soil

Police officers walked by in groups carrying machine guns, wearing protective gear. Amidst a sea of colors and languages, I sat waiting, staring at a world that had never touched me.

Phil and I had tried to work on a long distance relationship for over a year. He was a magazine editor in Washington, DC, and I handling public relations for a company in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Phil's mother had passed away in England. He asked if I would go help him settle his mother's home. So now here I sat in Heathrow Airport waiting for 'the tardy as usual' Phil to show up.

Flying to another country alone was a stretch for me. Customs, security checks, the true English language that I could only understand half of the time, came at me quickly, and, quickly, I tried to adapt. Heathrow was still reeling from a bomb scare a few days prior to my arrival so wall-to-wall security was in place. Guns. I hated guns yet they were there to protect me. Where the heck was Phil?

My intro into world travel started on rocky ground much like my relationship with Phil and his country of origin. But the true fact was that this was the country of my origin as well. This Loxley was at last returning to Nottingham and Sherwood Forest. I knew there would be no parades to welcome a Loxley back to the village, and I hoped no arrest warrants for distant relatives of the outlaw Robin. Surely in another time, I would have been part of the merry band of followers.

We drove on the wrong side of the road. Or maybe we in the US drove on the wrong side of the road. Street signs gave me a chuckle. The pubs were friendly and warm, the food fantastic. Nottingham was a long way from the machine guns that greeted me in London. We walked with a friend in the dingle (which at home was the creek bottom). Pictures of castles, villages, cathedrals and homes centuries old filled my camera.

I was 58-years-old before I managed to travel beyond the United States borders. My grandchildren live in a smaller world than I grew up in due to television, computers, modern technology. I needed to expand my world. How can I teach them how to fly beyond what they know if I don't do it myself? I saw machine guns for the first time. I sat in a pub where once knights drank a draft before heading off to the crusades. I discovered a culture that I thought was my own but was so different. I want the girls to expand their mind, to discover the world, to change the world for the better and not be afraid to meet the challenges and new adventures.

Phil and I never worked out, but for a short time I walked in Sherwood Forest and the streets of the once village where my ancestors walked. I walked through a door to the past and came back wiser for the present.

1 comment:

  1. We had a lovely visit to the UK about twelve years ago. It is interesting how different the mother country feels from the good old U.S.A. You're right that our grandchildren live in a smaller world. My 17-year-old granddaughter has visited most of the states, plus Canada, Singapore and the Bahamas. Now she's planning her post-graduation trip to Europe, and I don't think she's going to invite me to come along!