Claire found herself sitting once again at her table with her book lazily clutched in her right hand to her side. Looking around quickly for the source of her interruption, she saw one of her classmates waving to her as they walked by on their way to class. Claire gave a perfunctory wave in return and gazed mournfully at the unopened Biology textbook in front of her on the table. She had more important things to deal with. Should Marianne have married Colonel Brandon? Was Eleanor right to sacrifice her future happiness with Edward when she found out his secret? Memorizing phylogenetic trees out of a Biology textbook–
"What rot," she muttered to herself.
How could learning such a thing ever be deemed useful? Claire was reminded of her mother's futile attempts at inspiring her to learn her family history.
"It's who you are," her mother had scolded, "These people are a part of you."
Claire whimsically imagined her mother as a chimp-like protohuman swinging from the edge of the porch roof of the coffee shop extending to an end a few yards in front of her. Claire sighed as she reached out for the biology text book on the table in front of her.
Later, as she walked slowly through the woods in the middle of campus on the way back to her dorm room, she paused to look at a old moss-covered oak tree by the side of the brick-lain path. Half of the tree's root's were exposed, the rain having washed away the dirt which covered them. In the darkness beneath the tree, Claire could just see the sparkling eyes of the strange creatures she was sure must inhabit such a place. Hundreds of students walked the path she was strolling along each day, she thought, probably none of them knew there was such a special tree next to them as they passed it by.
There are precious few places in the New World which feel truly old, most of them being natural wonders like the Grand Canyon or the Giant Sequoia forests of California. Even rarer are the man-made places which seem old, and Claire always found herself drawn to those places. It was the sense of peace and belonging that drew her there. She grew up seeing such places as the Colosseum in Rome, old cities and crumbling castles of Germany, and America seemed too new for her to be comfortable. New furniture looks good, but Claire liked those old dusty chairs that had been around for centuries which you could fall into like Alice going down the White Rabbit's hole.
That night, as she lay in bed staring at the darkness above her, wondering where the room ended and the sky began, she slowly drifted into the twilight just before one falls asleep that is rarely remembered. That is the time when our pasts come back to visit with us until the day we die and join them.