Heima (Home)

The House with Northern Lights


Here I am sitting down to write my second blog post and listening to… what else, other than… Sigur Rós – Hvarf/Heim. I have watched, and fallen asleep to, the DVD Heima more times than I care to remember.

I have lived in two countries until now. England, for some twenty three years, where I wasted my youth, or at least wished I had. America, for yet another twenty three years, where I became a man, and set out to, and accomplished, that which I believed to be the most important achievement in life, to raise a family. I find myself in yet another country, fully expecting twenty three years of whatever it is I have to be doing here before, by some strange mechanism of fate, I am thrust out into the world once more to land somewhere new. So here I am, all of a sudden.

I am not even supposed to be here today, to quote Dante Hicks from the movie Clerks. The original plan was to take place over two to six years. It included our youngest daughter graduating from high school, whereupon she would head off to college. This would have given us more time to travel to Iceland and spend longer here. Subsequently, she would graduate from college, and then we would be able to stay here for indefinite periods. It seemed like a good plan, and it was. However, life is what happens when you are busy making plans. So life happened, and here I am, two to six years ahead of schedule, and, also, on my own.

Iceland is without a doubt in my mind the only place I have felt like I was truly home. I cannot explain it in the least. I grew up in England, and my heritage from there is still something I cherish, to an extent. I moved to America, where I found a freedom that I had not experienced previously. I was accepted as an American in due course, I embraced the principles that the place is said to stand for. Then I stumbled upon Iceland, and I felt very different.

Our first encounter with ‘The Land’ was one summer when we were heading back to England to visit my family. My then wife suggested that we fly with IcelandAir and stop over in Iceland for three days and just see what the place was like. The airfare was actually cheaper than a direct flight into the UK, so I was told. We took the ‘big gamble’ of stopping over in Iceland, doing the usual tourist circuit. Geysir, Þingvellir, Gulfoss and, of course, the obligatory Blue Lagoon.

We stayed at the Northern Lights Inn. This was when we discovered that the exposure to unrelenting daylight really helped lessen the jet-lag upon arrival in the UK. We enjoyed our time in Iceland, certainly, but we weren’t hooked right away. It took another trip through ‘The Land’ for that to happen. The next time we stopped over we absolutely fell in love with the place. Then there was no turning back, at least not for me.

I feel such a strong connection to ‘The Land’ I cannot rationally explain it. I must have some viking blood in me or something. My father’s side of the family is based in Yorkshire. York was a big viking settlement, back in the days when vikings were a significant part of England’s history (the bit that included axes and swords, and much pillaging and plundering). York itself is contracted from Jór, which means horse, and Vík, which means bay. So it is Horse-Bay.

I could get some genetic testing done to verify my potential viking heritage one way or the other. Maybe it is just best for me to have the feeling that I have viking blood, whether or not that is the case or not, I don’t know. What I do know is that when I am in Iceland I feel completely at home. This is something I have not felt anywhere else in the world. Who doesn’t want to feel like they have finally come home?

I took the big step of becoming an American citizen after more than twenty years of living in the USA. It was not something I did lightly, and I did not rush into it. I approached it with the same seriousness of intent that I did marriage. It meant I was turning from my place of birth toward the place I had chosen to be. I felt good about that decision, and I still do, it was right at the time. Even so, the feeling of being truly home eluded me.

I have spent so much time away from England that it is a foreign place to me, and I cannot fit into it any longer. In Iceland I am a stranger in a strange land, which offers an even stranger kind of comfort. That is something I just feel, and I feel it very deeply indeed.

I am trying to learn Icelandic. I have been taking a language course, and I am almost done with a fifteen lesson course of one and a half hours per lesson. I probably need a break to gather myself a bit. I would like to get the work books we have that accompany the audio CDs which I have ripped to my iPhone. I listened to the audio the other day and found I could understand things being said that previously had given me that feeling of “Please make it stop, my brain hurts”. I am now able to read the lunch menu at work and discover just exactly what it is that I am about to consume.

It all seems like baby steps though, when I want to take great big giant grown-up strides. I feel like I am outside, and desperately want to be inside. My heart aches to be where I want to be. Every time I discover I understand even a single word I feel like a blind man who can suddenly see, it is very exhilarating for just a moment or two, and then reality sets in. I know I will get to where I want to be, because my mind is set on it, I will not fail, I never do.

I am truly home. I do not want to leave, for anything. I know that is difficult for some to hear, but it is the truth from my heart. This is the place I have experienced the truest joy I have ever experienced, a joy I experienced on my own, by a lake, in the midst of mountains, in a land that seems to have chosen me rather than the other way around.

Bless Bless og Sjáumst!

2 responses to “Heima (Home)

  1. I am so happy to hear another say they truly feel at home in this crazy country! So many people just can’t understand that I feel that way. I’ve been here a total of 8 years (3 on the military base in Keflavik with my ex-husband, and 5 years actually living in Iceland). I also don’t ever want to leave, and I can’t understand the people who choose to be here and yet curse everything about this beautiful country.

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