Thursday, August 16, 2018


I remember it so well: November of 1973. I was living in New York, still wondering if leaving Poland had been the right thing to do. I was nearly done with college. Thanksgiving was just a few days away. I had wanted to go skiing in New England, but there was no snow. I wanted to get away from the city. On a student budget. I was working the late shift at an upper westside bookstore. I had enough money to go somewhere. But where?

I chose Iceland. Cheap airfares. Somewhat exotic then.

So many things stand out from that trip: I arrived without a place to stay. The Tourist Office found me a room in someone's house. Waiters were on strike and so I couldn't eat out. Everything was expensive. And the days were very very dark.

In the three days I was there, I walked, took pictures, had a massage. First one ever. On the last day I rented a car. A VW bug. I was happy that they allowed a rental to someone who was just 20. I sort of kind of knew how to drive a stick. I headed away from the city and got stuck on some icy stretch of lonely road. I was told there would be geisers, but there was only ice on a moonlike landscape and the car slipped and I pumped the brakes and tried to shift and somehow I made it back to the city.

I took a photo of the frozen lake in Reykjavik. I really liked the image -- a child pulling another child on a wooden sled across a lonely stretch of frozen water, but it wasn't otherwise a very good photo. I submitted it to some local contest and not surprisingly, it did not win. I also wrote a story about my weekend. It was my very first short story. I did nothing with it. It's probably in my trunk of forgotten papers.

Don't you think I should return to Iceland? I'm on my way. I should be there tomorrow.

The day was otherwise a blur. Misty skies, fading gardens, pesky chickens, lovely children. Breakfast.  All of it compressed into the morning and afternoon hours.

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It's evening now. Storms come, storms recede. Chicken sitters are in place. And as Ed chases away buzzing biting flies somewhere on a boat far away, I'm waiting for my flight to Minneapolis. From there -- Reykjavik.