Ísland 2/6

At long last the first day winds to its close, the sun sinking away, only showing for a short time, I am long awake in the night

for that single moment the clouds cleared as the sun made its slow unearthly slow ascent

hint of rose on the horizon washing together with dozens of shades of night blue.

The plateau, the great hulking beast, covered and veiled with snow, gullies of that black-brown lava rock turned crystalline.

I am long awake. Hours pass. The rain falls. Corrugated roofs funnel water down onto multilingual tourists struggling against the subarctic.

Now. the bitter taste of local beer; the flicker of candlelight; comfort in wood paneling, the soft eclectic music in the background, the local tending bar. Money, language, all different. But still comfort as exhaustion stays away; I write by firelight.

Clinking glass and the lilting music of a frontier language that withstands time like the people have. The bitter-but-sweet of pale ale, brewed locally by Americans. The omnipresent American complaining about prices and the near-perfect Icelandic accent in response, humoring the útlendingur.

Stranger in a strange land but in spite of that, it feels comfortable. Frontier blood become lively in frontier land. As much as a large metro area can be “frontier”; as much as a suburbanite can be “frontier”. Still. Land-open, windswept, rugged — invisible but felt. The plateau rising in the distance, above the fishing boats and harbors. The feeling that we are naught but visitors.

The land of ice and deep, long-held memories. The land of a people who exist as a living history. Iceland the land that is nothing like I expected, but holds an inescapable influence over me. I cannot resist this volcanic country, this land of Geysir and Oðin and Reykjavík.

So I sit, in a Reykjavík pub, Icelandic filtering in from around me. A saga of my own.