I recently traveled to the UK on the most epic vacation of my life thus far. We rented a car and drove over 1,000 miles through the countryside up to Scotland and back to London again. It was amazing. I will be going back.
While we were there, we visited the Brontë Parsonage and Museum in Haworth. Imagine if you can, you're an American driving in an oversized vehicle (for the UK) on a teeny oneway street up the hillside with duel traffic. It's foggy, so much so that you cannot capture the amazing scene before you on camera. But your eyes, sensitive to all the greatness in the world, are witnessing the most awe-inspiring landscape of your life. The green rolling hills are speckled with white sheep, water trickles down the side of the road as it mists. Halfway up the hillside, a small pond gathers glimmers of the gray sky and swirling clouds.
Quaint stone buildings, centuries old, line the roadway once you finally reach the town. There's no where to park, barely anywhere to drive. As soon as you hear the "ding" of your car alarm and your feet hit the cobblestone, you're thrown back in time. Not even your phone works.
You take a few steps past an ancient-looking church, an even older cemetery, up to a picturesque home where the Brontë sisters lived and wrote. Your literary heart thumps; you can hardly wait to get inside. Once there, you touch everything they'll allow. Charlotte used this doorknob. Emily leaned against this railing. And the stairs. How many times did they look down at each other from the landing?
I stood in the same room they wrote their masterpieces, and I couldn't help but be both sad and elated.
Sad because they all died way too young.
Elated because I had an opportunity to feel the soul of the place they left behind.
I read Jane Eyre for the first time when I was seventeen and Wuthering Heights a few years later. I could picture the cold, wet hills in the English countryside, and walking through Haworth, I saw what my younger self had only imagined. That's how talented they were. They gave me such a clear picture of something I'd never seen that it was like having déjà vu when I finally did see it.
I love old places for the same reason I love the Brontë's home. Their stories inspire me. If walls could talk, I'd invite them for coffee.