stained glass at keflavik on Flickr.
This is the ceiling of the airport in Keflavik.
Last year on the last day of February I was returning to America by airplane.
It had been a very long journey, and I was looking forward to returning to my home, my lover, and to my dog. In preparation for the trip I had read only one book about explorers, which was about the guys that got stuck in the sea off greenland. In it I learned that without the natives, particularly without a lady Inuit named Tookoolito, the explorers would have died. Even with the natives, they were up to some dumb stuff in the name of adventure. Is this the story with all adventurers? Maybe.
Back in Norway, earlier on the trip, while we were devouring the best meal we ate in the coldest tent ever, [somewhere in the wilderness (in the neighborhood of where? We traveled 46 miles by dogsled. (South of Finse, North of Oslo)] our guide described being on Greenland and staring up at airplanes flying over him and imagining the residents of those planes eating the meal he was preparing for us. If I said this was the only time I liked him, it would be a half-truth, but it was a moment when I felt like he had dropped a little of the macho ego that made the portion of the voyage with him sort of reckless and dangerous and barely tolerable.
I like it when we remember we are small drops in a big freaking universe and here he was, admitting it, and talking about the foods he fantasized about while he himself was forcing himself to eat the 4 staples of the Amundsen expeditioners. I can’t remember if this was the same night that the camp stove was filling the tent with noxious fumes or not.
On the flight home, we flew over Greenland and Newfoundland and I peered down on the continents, and I felt small and alive. On the tv there was a really not very excellent movie, a sequel called “Wall Street: Money never sleeps” but what is important about this film was that the soundtrack was songs from the David Byrne & Brian Eno collaboration record, “Everything that happens will happen today.” I would argue that David Byrne really knows how to write songs about home. There was this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYYU1mJSeOs and there was a lot of images of New York, where we would fly into in a few hours. I never really think of Manhattan as my home, unless I am far from home and trying to describe what I am near. I am near Manhattan. When I first went to college on the West Coast I would encounter people who had never been to Manhattan and think I was really awesome because I was only a train ride away from there. “You’ve never been to NY!?” I’d say, as though this was some thing that we all must do if we want to be sophisticated 19 year olds. Goodness, what an ass I was.
The music was from a record I had listened to a great deal in the year and a half before the trip, the record helped to ground me in my place in the world, and I had seen D.Byrne perform the music at the close of 2008.
And back on earth, will all my fingers and toes, a year later. Holy Moses that was an adventure.
I remember feeling a little out of the travelling league with all the Europeans talking about all the continents they had visited and when they asked me about myself I mumbled something about liking to travel in America. Because I do. This is a land that I have a lot of complicated feelings about but damn if it doesn’t contain multitudes. A person could spend a lifetime exploring their backyard. I am glad to be an explorer of my backyard and I am glad for adventures that remind us again that where we live is a beautiful place indeed.
Last night I rode my bike back from ballet class and I took the road that slides along the harbor and I watched the sky and the stars and I was grateful for what a year can be, and do. It was an adventure that made me appreciate the comforts of comforts. Amen