So, setting off with as much adventurous spirit as we could, we started towards where the driver had instructed my mom to go. Despite the directions he had given her, we still had no idea. All we knew was that there was a busy road we needed to cross and then to just keep walking.
We certainly found that busy road and crossed it.
That was how we ended up walking along the highway.
My mother, of course, was being the optimistic person she usually was.
“No one knows where we are,” she said as we walked in the ditch. “Robert has no idea where we are. We could be dead in a ditch and no one will know!”
Robert was my mom’s new husband. He had remained back in the States.
I looked at my mom. “Mom, we are not going to end up in a ditch,” I said, trying to reassure her. “And we told the Pax Lodge where we would be, remember?”
She did not look reassured, though. Her mind, I knew, was running through every worst-case scenario. All I wanted was to find the stupid house. We had walked along the A31 highway for ten minutes and still hadn’t found a sign pointing us to the house.
“Let’s just turn back,” Mom said when we reached an overpass. “This cannot be the right way.”
I nodded and we both turned back towards Alton. Once back in town, after being honked at again for our idiocy some more, we looked around.
I cannot remember exactly how we found the right way to Jane Austen’s. My mom probably figured it out. I felt so stupid as we crossed the busy turn-around and went towards the right instead of the left like we had ealier.
It did not take long before we saw signs pointing towards Jane Austen’s house. Finally! We were on the right track. I repeated, “I love you,” to my mom over and over. Seeing Jane Austen’s house wasn’t on my mother’s Top Ten Things to Do in London. But, she would for me. There was no one I would rather get stuck on the side of the road with.
As we walked along the sidewalk, we joked about our noses being broken. Neither of us could believe that the woman actually told us to follow our noses. We decided that maybe it wasn’t because they were broken, but because they were American noses.
When we arrived at Chawton, it was simply amazing. The house was a small two-story building made out of brick and surrounded by a low wall. Inside, the wooden floor creaked under our feet. We walked over to pay the Jane Austen Society in order to look around. Instantly, I began to look around at all the souvenirs and memorabilia that filled the room, trying to take it all in at once. Then the women told me that there were costume displays from the BBC versions of Austen’s books. It was all I could do to keep from jumping and running all over the house.