Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Journal Entry - Reykjavik Iceland

July 8th 2014

I don’t know what it is I’m looking for. I didn’t know until this moment, eating fried eggs and tomatoes on the first morning of this adventure, that I ever thought there was something to be looking for. I’ve always been following my gut and knowing I’ll pull it all together in the end.

But, in the midst of the exhaustion of heavy limbs and a sour stomach, I just realized that I’m waiting for new, more clear or exciting sense of myself or a grand discovery of the true meaning of life to come and crash upon me. I’m waiting and of course, because these things are much more subtle, there is nothing but my aching belly.

Earlier this week, when the reality of all of this started to materialize, I looked up at my mom from across the room, my gut ice and realized that I have no idea what I’m doing.

“I know,” she said. “You’re a crazy person.”

And I laughed but I was shaking my head in disbelief. I think that I may be, in fact, a crazy person.

I did really good with the stress levels of all of this until about an hour before I had to be at the Minneapolis Saint Paul Airport. While Emelia and I watched TV to pass the last few hours before I had to go, I felt real panic, the stuff I’d been anticipating a while now. At the airport, Emelia promised to pick me up again in 6-7 months, hugged me tight and said “you are the bravest woman I know.”

I wiped tears from my eyes – yet another leaving I’ve laid down on my heart – and didn’t feel brave, but perhaps more correctly I felt pulled in no uncertain terms. There should always be fear in following through with goals and dreams.

As I eat my breakfast and wait for grandeur, I wonder and grasp at very little. I need to allow a new pace into my life, to feel good about quiet mornings with a book and coffee and pen and paper. These are goals worth achieving.

The people of Iceland are a calm, steady and direct folk, seemingly accepting and prepared for all. They speak softly and slowly. English sounds dull in their mouths – so used to speaking in an ancient, mystical language. From what I can tell, they are a no-nonsense people that won’t be much offended by you or take the time to break you out of your shell if you are not one of them. They are tattooed and pierced, their skin pale and hair red and blonde.

I recognize something here, something about the way northerners experience the world. A determination and resistance to bothering with the little things. I read that Icelanders are among the most optimistic in the world and that their national phrase should be something that translates to "Eh. It'll all work out." I’ve been told they make it a practice to only allow their babies to nap outside, unless there is hurricane-like weather, in order to build the baby’s stamina. With just a touch more than 300,000 people on the entire island and so many shared sagas of ancestry, they have apps so that you can be sure the person you are dating isn’t so closely related to you your children are at risk of developing genetic diseases (note it’s not expected you won’t be related to your spouse).

The only city here is quiet, feeling like a small town and lacking all of the opulence of what I’ve come to expect from European cities. Even the main cathedral in town is basic and blocky – though it is Lutheran and being from Minnesota I understand this. Reykjavik is a hilly, colorful fishing town filled with music-loving punks who apparently know how to party pretty hard, though I’m too jetlagged to really do much in the un-ending nights. It’s modern and quaint all at once. Feels like a place one can actually live, even though it’s only 55ish and cloudy in the summer. 

Help fund my artistic journey through Northern Ireland where I will be researching and finishing my book, working title Dear Bird for 3-4 months. Learn more about my campaign and donate here. Thank you!

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