25 April 2017
"Here begins my journal. I am sitting in my Icelandair plane seat. 24F. 24 because my favorite number. 24 because my age. F because the window. I am leaning against my little corner of the aircraft trying to get comfortable. I have a third of a window behind my right shoulder and a full window in front of me that is slightly too far away to peer out inconspicuously with nonchalance. It's dark anyway."
That's how I opened my journal six weeks ago as I was beginning my Workaway experience (if that's what we want to call it). That day seems like ages ago. My story has grown so much since then, but we'll go back in time and start from the beginning.
My airport experience was nothing noteworthy other than the fact that there were no lines and I was at my gate within 15 minutes of entering the building. I'm an anxious person by nature, so this Day One: Travel Day should have maxed out my anxiety gauges. Surprisingly, that didn't happen and it was wonderful. This travel thing must be something that simultaneously energizes and calms me. Neat.
This is my first solo travel experience. I had never been to another country on my own. I am responsible for everything. I didn't and don't know what to expect. I still don't know if I was able to pack efficiently and appropriately for a two-month stint in Europe. When I left, I didn't have a ticket back home. I really didn't have much planned after my time in Iceland. I am thrilled by the daring aspect of leaving on and following a yet-to-be-finished itinerary. That's a bit unlike me. Or should I say a bit unlike the me that was accustomed to following a plan that fits well within a relatively small comfort zone? I wouldn't say it's unlike me to be spontaneous and flexible, but others might say it is.
To quote Dale Cooper (because I'm all about Twin Peaks currently, duh), "I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange."
A place both wonderful and strange, indeed. Not weird strange (well, maybe a little). Strange in the unfamiliarity sense, definitely. I am physically and mentally in a wonderful and strange place, and it's unexpectedly liberating.
A lot of things happened when I landed in Iceland. First, I shed a single tear (umm, what) when we touched down. That dumb tear was most likely due to a lack of sleep, but it also could have been caused by finally arriving in a place I have been thinking and talking about for years. Second, I rode the bus into Reykjavik. Easy enough, right? Well, it's not when you have 30 seconds to transfer buses along a busy divided highway and the stop is across the street. I missed my connection. And that meant the only morning bus going to my destination, Borgarnes, would leave without me. Third, I had to lug my luggage across town. Seventy pounds of backpacks and I waddled through Reykjavik to a nearby coffee shop. (By the way, 1.5 miles is not nearby as a flustered pack mule in a foreign country.) I didn't even take out my camera during this trek. I wanted to get a plan. I wanted a temporary home base. I needed coffee.
My latte disappeared quickly and the caffeination set in. I was ready to hunker down in this spot until the next bus departure. The wi-fi was fast and I was tired and burdened with bags. HOWEVER, a wonderful and strange thing happened. I met Cynthia who had just arrived from Seattle and decided to wait for her coffee in the seat across from mine. Long story short, we decided to walk around Reykjavik for a while. Despite having to carry around my backpacks for several hours, I am beyond thankful that I was able to see parts of the city that I otherwise wouldn't have.
My tired and happy feet were ready to catch the bus to Borgarnes. The bus driver tried to tell me a bunch of stuff in Icelandic and I gave him my best I-have-no-clue-I'm-a-dumb-American-tourist face. Then, we were off. I was able to relax for a moment. My body then let me know how exhausted it was. It's truly amazing how our bodies can power through and get the job done when they need to. I knew I would ache for a few days, but that's okay.