I know I look all peaceful and serene in the pictures in this post and that’s because I am. Me and the family had a wonderful time frolicking around Langjökull and touring the nearby Víðgelmir cave yesterday. It was a good day but, let me tell you people of the interwebs, internets and intertubes, F*cking January, as per usual, was hard as f*ck. I have never met a January I liked in all my forty plus years and this January was true to form. The good news is the sun is making a comeback. I know, don’t call it a comeback, it’s been here for millennia but still I think this moment calls for a hallelujah. Hallelujah!
As I suspected, the holiday lights went out after New Year’s Day and it was like the air was let out of everything. I have never stopped missing home but the missing suddenly felt so much deeper. At the same time I felt like spikes were growing underneath my skin and at any moment they would shoot out. I felt like I was going to burst out of my skin. Is that what island fever feels like? In any case, two things helped carry me through. One was talking to the husband about my feelings. He really is a gem, that one. And he encouraged me to get another job in addition to the part-time one I already have. Who has time to wallow in self pity when you have to get up and go to work everyday? I live in my head a lot which can be great for creative pursuits but can bend towards being unhealthy, especially when combined with not enough sunlight, homesickness and did I mention the horrible weather? So yeah, in the long tradition of my step-ancestors of the West Indies I have two jobs. I know they would shake their heads and suck their teeth at me having so few jobs but if you count this blog, the other blog I haven’t written anything for in months and my design website (see that travel mug, I created the design on it and I put that shit on t-shirts too) that kind of makes up another part-time job, yeah? Who am I kidding? There’s no impressing West Indian elders.
At any rate, I’m now working part-time at a preschool. Yes, you read that right, the person who doesn’t like children is working with small children. I know, it’s a shock to me too and not nearly as stressful as I thought it would be. The first two weeks were exhausting but now I’m kind of getting used to the flow, the constant chatter and their boundless energy. The kids are teaching me Icelandic and lots and lots of patience and the other teachers are teaching me how to be Icelandic. For example, if you go abroad, when you come back, everyone expects you stock up on candy at the duty free and bring it to work. I’m sure there are some other more subtle cultural shit I’m picking up but I probably won’t notice that until later. The kids have also validated a theory I have about humanity within the span of just a few weeks. My theory is that there are no good people and bad people, there are only people. It makes us feel good to other-ize murderers, thieves, rapists and assholes but the truth is that is all part of human behavior. It’s not some sort of anomaly, it’s perfectly human and we are all capable of doing horrible things. The kid that will hug a friend when they’re sad will turn around and, quite literally, kick the mess out of that same friend when they are down. I have seen it with my own two eyes. I know, you’re thinking, well, small children’s brains aren’t fully developed so yadda, yadda, yadda but you know full well that fully grown humans with fully developed brains can behave in the same way. Watching the kids play out the range of human behavior got me thinking that we, meaning humans, just can’t seem to not mess up a good thing. We will always find a way to mess it up and big time.
Speaking of humans messing things up. There are a few spots in Iceland that were not completely deforested by humans and the sheep brought along for the ride. The national parks are protected and have forest areas, one of which we saw yesterday. It’s a small forest (which would look like a field of shrubs to non-Icelanders) on the way to Langjökull. There is also a small inaccessible island in the middle of the Skógá river covered in small Icelandic birch trees. In the winter, they look mostly like a reddish gray blanket on the landscape but in summer they’re like a carpet of green. So much more of Iceland used to look like this one tiny island and the national parks. Skógafoss is a waterfall in the Skógá river and it’s name means, waterfall in the forest. Yeah, the whole area around that tiny island was once covered in birch forest but, you know, humans. I understand that humans deforested Iceland to survive but isn’t that just so damned typically human to weasel our way into a place we have no business being in and then survive to the detriment of everything else around us which in the end turns out to also be a detriment to ourselves? We just can’t help cutting off our noses to spite our faces every chance we get.
I didn’t start out writing this post with the intent to go so doom and gloom but that’s kind of my style. Everything in the world is great and wonderful and simultaneously horrific and terrible. January was long and dreary but is finally over. February brought a lot more sun and enlightenment via 2 to 5 year-olds and March ain’t looking too shabby. Bring on the 24 hour sunlight! Until then, the kettle is on.