It’s been eleven weeks now since I arrived in ‘The Land’, although time is relative, as it seems like a year or more. I may be repeating myself in saying this, but it’s something that certainly bears repeating. I have spent plenty of time up by the lake, walking along its length, sitting in the summer house, enjoying the solitude, the peace, the quiet. It’s been good for me to have that. In the meantime I have gotten myself into various routines. Routines that help me continue on through life. A routine for eating, which makes sure I am giving myself adequate nourishment. A routine for household chores, which includes getting clothes laundered in a timely fashion, so that I have clean clothes to put on. A routine for work, making sure that I arrive for work ready to do the best that I possibly can, and giving myself time outside of work so that I can maintain my performance whilst at work. All in all the many routines I have served as they are intended to.
So this past Thursday, when I was routinely leaving work, and routinely getting into my car, routinely about to start the drive back up to the house by the lake, something quite un-routine happened to me. I put the key in the ignition, and then … I sat there, just sat there, and continued to just sit there whilst the many cars around mine in the parking lot left in their own routine way. I did not want to follow my routine today, not in the least. The thought of driving back up to the quiet, peaceful house by the lake to spend yet more time alone was not sitting well with me any longer.
I sat and I talked to myself about the situation I found myself in at the time. I expressed how I felt about it at some length. I explained to myself why I felt that way in great detail. Then I set about trying to find alternatives to the routine I would normally pursue. This all took about an hour, going back and forth, bringing up a lot of related issues, until, finally, just sitting there was no longer a desirable alternative to the routine.
I turned the key in the ignition, started the car, and drove. I drove into town, instead of out of town. I surmised that I would somehow find something to do in town that would occupy my time adequately until such a time when I was ready to make the drive back up to the house by the lake. I had received an email about this free walking tour given by a female performance group that was to begin at 8 pm starting at the Hafnarhús branch of the Reykjavík Art Museum. I considered it an option, despite the fact the tour was to be conducted entirely in Icelandic, as far as I knew. I had about an hour or so to fill up with activity if I was to take this option.
I drove down Laugevegur until I met the section that has been closed to traffic for the summer, then turned and continued down the parallel street until I arrived at the junction at the bottom, where a randomly decided upon left turn took me past IÐA, seemingly the only bookstore that was still open at this hour. Then I remembered I wanted to see if the “Teach Yourself Icelandic” books were available locally, as I have the audio ripped to my iPhone, and really wanted to give it another go, having discovered that I understand a lot of it now. I continued on and found a parking spot, quite possibly about as far away as I could have managed without actually trying, and then walked to the store in search of said tomes.
I browsed through the conveniently placed section of books about Icelandic for foreigners, but only found a different set of books which were the equivalent of about 50 USD and 30 USD. I flicked through the pages, but, upon reflection, decided the purchase would not be prudent. I replaced the books and left the shop, walking back to my car through the wet, and slightly windy, evening air. By the time I arrived back at my car, slightly chilled, I had decided that a walk in this sort of weather for an hour was most definitely not called for. So I began the routine drive back towards the quiet summer house by the lake once more.
I reached the intersection where the majority of the traffic heads into the tunnel, and where I turn to the right and head towards the house by the lake. The overcast sky was still there, and it reflected the mood for the evening up until that point. However, things were about to change. I drove along this stretch of road as I have done for eleven weeks now, remembering every curve, every bump, and every new view as I turn yet another corner.
I reached the final corner that one has to turn in order to see Meðalfell in all its mountainous glory. As I did the scenery changed abruptly, and almost magically. There above the lake that I know so well now was brilliant sunshine that bathed everything beneath it in a sea of wondrous colour. If you were making a movie about this place, you would have had it filmed to look like this for certain.
A flood of emotion washed over me quite unexpectedly, and I cried out. It was a beautiful scene to behold. I was glad to be heading towards this place again, but I unleashed the full expression of a yearning that I had held inside for some time to be somewhere else, and soon.
I arrived back at the house, parked, and went inside to follow the normal routine. Meanwhile, outside, there was glorious sunshine that washed over everything within sight. It was a magnificent evening, in stark contrast to what I left behind in town.
The very next day I began the routine of looking for a place in town. A place I could make my own. Where I could go to when I am done giving my all at work. Where I could leave to go out into town from. Where I could return to at whatever time I needed to when I was done being out. I had subscribed to a property rental site, as advised to by a friend, and I checked daily, but had not found anything suitable as of yet. This morning two places were newly posted. Neither showed any promise for me. So I got to work and got through my work day.
Later on I decided to do another check, as I had checked rather early, and thought there was a chance more places had been added. Sure enough, several new listings were present. I examined a couple and printed them out. One in particular stood out. It was one I could spend less on than the cost of fueling the car for a month and it seemed to have everything I needed. I ran it by a couple of people in the office who seemed to agree that it was worth checking out. When leaving time came I said my goodbyes and set out in the car, calling to see if I could see the place in person. I was informed I could come and see it immediately, which I duly did.
It was nice enough, certainly not as nice as my summer house, but nice enough. The main thing was that it had a private entrance, enough space, and everything was included. I spoke with the owner at length. I told her my story in detail, as I had been told that these situations generally involve whether the owner takes a liking to you or not. From what I was told, I would have to be about the best tenant she could find.
Then it came time to make a decision. I am generally someone who does not make decisions on the spot. I like to take my time and think about things. However, time has not been on my side of late, and I was not about to let an opportunity escape from me that I might not get again for some time. ‘The pressure was on’ as they say. I rose to the occasion and said I would take the place and we shook hands. I got the keys to the apartment right then and there, however, I didn’t start moving in until the next day.
There is a world of difference between living 45 minutes drive from downtown, to living within 10 minutes walk. Food shopping is just 5 minutes away by car, and work is a mere 8 minutes now. The furthest distance I would need to walk now would take only 30 minutes to traverse. I have been able to go out and be a part of the life that goes on in Reykjavík. I have even been able to bump into people I know whilst in town, something I have witnessed others do, which I practically envied them being able to do. It’s probably akin to living off or on campus. One just does not get the same experience living off campus as one does living on campus. It’s not possible to achieve the same social interaction when there is physical separation most of the time.
Well, now I am ‘on campus’, and I am loving it. I have a lot of hard work ahead of me, and it is such a relief to know that, at the times I am not working, I can go out and be a part of Reykjavík. I have already had a most enjoyable weekend in town, and I am ready for the hard work that lies ahead this week.
As a new month begins, so does a new set of routines, in a new place, with a new vigor.
Bless Bless og Sjáumst!