My Nordic journey is now complete. I have witnessed the Northern Lights, the shimmery green lights hanging above the Tjörnin Lake in central Reykjavík, as if to say, “Welcome back to Iceland!” This cheerful, colorful, almost flirtatious greeting as it faded and reappared in another part of the sky, could not have come at a better time. Still heavy with the loss of the Faroes, almost as if I am mourning, but now I am soothed, by music, literature, and this cosmic gift of ethereal, transient light.
I really was loathe to leave Tórshavn. Have I mentioned that enough already? But never has a place reached down so deep and so quickly rooted into my fiber. Flew out on a beautiful Faroese day, the clouds and fog lifted into dazzling sunlight painting the mountains and waters in bright hues of green and blue. Was this the Faroes saying goodbye? The distraction of my new friend Hal as a travel partner (same flight in, same hostel, and now same flight out) helped me postpone the inevitable realization that I do not know when I can get back to the home of my heart and soul. Portland, I apologize, but while I will always love you, there is a place in the world where I feel even more right, like something was missing and I never knew, feeding a wanderlust that suddenly is tamed. I would be content to go again and again to the Faroes and never travel anywhere else again.
A call home obviously was in order to ground me back to reality, so upon checking in to my hostel, grabbed the calling card and dialed away. And so begins my recovery. But do I want to recover?
Reykjavik is trying her hardest to help. After weeks of remote mountains, glaciers, hiking, harbor towns, and the intimate island nation of the Faroes, Reykjavik feels huge. Overwhelming. Too much noise and bustle and buildings. So I sought out one of my favorite cafes and settled in to write over a cup of good, strong Icelandic coffee. Ducked into my favorite Icelandic music shop, called 12 Tónar, a little gem of a shop where the soft-spoken, gracious owner listens to your music preference and points you in the right direction. I savored an hour lost in some soothing and mind-blowing Icelandic indie music, sprawled on an old antique couch and sipping the espresso the owner brewed on this little antique espresso machine. My heart a bit lighter, I walked out with a new spring in my step.
It’s the middle of the Reykjavik Literary Festival, so I joined a crowd of locals at the Íðnó Theatre, packed into the very warm space alight with an anticipatory buzz for a reading by five different international authors. Standing room only, so I leaned against the wall and tried my best to ignore my painful joints and muscles during the two hours of readings. Note to self – to avoid fibromyalgia pain as a distraction, arrive early and find a seat. Alas, the readings were wonderful. Even when I could not understand the language (the authors read in their own languages and the translations were in Icelandic), I let myself fly away on the rhythms of the voice and intonation and emphasis. The Mexican poet was so energetic, mattered not I don’t know Spanish. The German-speaking Romanian author I understood enough of her German to grasp the subject matter and the beauty in which she expressed her story.
But I loved the Icelandic authors best of all. Bergsveinn Birgisson and Bjarni Bjarnason. They read in Icelandic and the translations were English. I thrilled over their prose, meter, expression, way of wording an emotion or thought. This is a country of 99.9% literacy, where an overwhelming number of books are translated into Icelandic for a population of only 300,000 or so people. A large number of authors and readers. Here the written word as art is adored and revered. And to step out from this magic spell of spoken words into the night and see before me the Northern Lights dancing, reflected in the lake – yes, I am ready to move on in my travels. So I tell myself I will definately be back to the Faroes and prepare myself to move on to Heimæy tomorrow for the last few days of my trip.