Return to Reykjavik
Since the arrival of Spring I'd only withered. Always myself but unsure of this version because I'd never met her before. Sulking silently in the stillness of her room. The door always shut. There were reasons, sure, but none of them meaningful enough for this behavior. That is, until June.
Dad called early in the morning and just as I lifted the phone to my ear the confusion faded. Grandma was gone.
I've lost people before, but not quite like this. What I realize now about loss is the hard part isn't the day or week a soul leaves a body. The hard part is when you're looking at the same flower that used to line her walkway and remember never again will someone you know be at the end of the phone number you have memorized. The amount of times I've reached to dial that number only to stop short...
Everything was ending just as it had started. I had amassed a grand amount of confusion over the last year but there was one clear thing in sight: twenty-seven days away from this city, away from this country. My chest never loosened at the thought of leaving, but I trusted there would be change. I didn't know how or what but I placed my faith in the voyage.
. . .
Returning to Reykjavik was like coming home after graduating college and understanding this structure was never really yours in the first place. The airport had collected new restaurants and shuttle companies and the range of tourists was much more diverse. I finally saw people bearing shades similar to my own. It was my hope to take a road trip like I had four years ago, but by the time I reached KEX I could barely keep my eyes from closing.
KEX was different too. I'd been there before it was officially open and workers were still toiling away at rooms on every level. I'd met two Canadians and a Minnesotan and we all embarked on one of the best drives of my life. From 18:00 to 7 the next morning we cruised through the Golden Circle, reached a glacier lake, and stumbled upon natural formations pulled straight from The Lord of the Rings. We'd gone to the mall to buy blank CD's and made mixes for the ride. I can still say those 13 hours were perfect.
This time around, instead of driving through middle earth, I devoured breakfast until my room was ready. What I've always loved about Nordic countries is their ability to turn the most mundane items into an accessible meal I somehow still crave. Fresh bread, tomatoes, and cucumbers sat next to boiled eggs, cheese, tuna, and pate. This could easily be done at home in America if shopped for correctly. After having my fill and climbing the steps to my shared dorm, I pulled an incredibly fluffy duvet over my head and snoozed as jazz music and laughter from the patio found it's way to my room. When I finally awoke hours later, I was somehow hungry once again. I took myself on a walk through town then returned to the bar and ordered a white fish with creamed potatoes, soft onions, and gravy. The air was brisk but the sun still made room for comfort as I sipped white wine and relished each bite of my savory dish. A new jazz band was setting up inside and a local crowd was beginning to form. I stood towards the back and watched in excitement as they played lively rhythmic numbers, the saxophonist using his entire breath to move the crowd. For the first time in months it was easier to smile.