I have recently returned from Iceland and am at a party, looking for someone to talk to. This is a deluxe party with a DJ, a pizza truck, a crepe stand—I’ve heard oysters and lobsters will be coming out soon. Waiters circulate with trays of Mojitos. I lunge for it, I’m thirsty. This lawn party is at beach house that sits on the Connecticut Sound. If I were a New Yorker or a map, I’d call it the Long Island Sound, as would most of the country. But that’s how we are around here. We take our watery borders seriously. We have Small State Complex.
Iceland is still with me in many ways. I still have a bit of jet lag, a leftover sense of peace, and a mysterious smile from certain memories of the trip. I still have the gravlax and smoked lamb that I bought at Keflavik airport in my refrigerator. And I still feel as if I don’t want to re-enter my regular life yet.
The waiter walks within my vicinity and I reach out again for him. I thank him profusely as I lift another Mojito off his tray. “Can I give you this?” I ask, dangling the empty other glass. He says, of course you can, and he has a French accent, which seems trés swank. “You are too kind,” I say, because he is—he’s very attentive—and because drinking makes me a bit of a phony.
There’s something about this particular part of Connecticut that reminds me of the coastline in Iceland. Maybe it’s just the color of moss and seaweed on the rocks during low tide. Maybe it’s that the beaches have dark sand, the rocks are big and they tumble forth into a blue gray sea. It also reminds me of Maine. It’s a cool, northern coastline, even though it’s a hot summer day.
Finally someone starts talking to me and my lonely Mojito. Someone I haven’t seen in a while. “Oh, did you do your Iceland thing?” she asks me. I am known around here for doing my Iceland thing.
“Yes, I just got back.” I’ve been back a week or so, but I don’t want acknowledge how quickly vacation time fades.
“How was it?”
“It was great,” but I don’t offer up anything more. My Iceland thing is not cocktail hour chit-chat. It’s more like late at night, heart to heart, and only with certain people, preferably the people I travel with. Anyone else, if they’re interested, they can read my blog where I tell all.
“Did you ride the ponies?”
“They’re horses, but yes.”
She’s nodding her head smiling. I’m nodding my head smiling. We both look around for that savior of a waiter with the sugary, minty drinks. I’ve tuned out the music the DJ is playing because it’s mostly trilling songs by warbling pop divas. I’d rather listen to the gulls screech.
But then I hear the trumpets and the folk music chorus, “Hey!”
“Oh, Monsters and Men,” I exclaim, “their song, Little Talks.” The woman looks confused. “They’re an Icelandic band,” I explain.
Every year on our trip to Iceland we stop at a bakery in Borgarnes on our way up to the farm. It’s always our first stop. And it’s usually our last stop driving back from the farm to the airport. This year however we stopped at the Settlement Centre in Borgarnes, not to go to the museum but to its café. We got coffee and five lavish pieces of cake to share among eight of us. At the end of our trip, we show such restraint.
After the five pieces of cake, we went into the Settlement Centre gift shop. Beth T. was looking for felt liners. I wandered around picking up woolen things, wondering if my daughter would like another Icelandic hat. I was antsy and a tad melancholy, feeling like I always leave Iceland too soon. A recurring daydream of mine is that I spend a month or two there in the summer, instead of a brief week. I was mindlessly humming along to a familiar song playing in the background, when I realized it was Of Monsters and Men, singing “Little Talks”, but in Icelandic.
Anyway, this is where my mind goes, drinking a Mojito at a party on the Connecticut Sound, looking at the shoreline. It’s nice here—the party, the setting, the drink—but I’m wishing I were back in Iceland. I’m sure the poor woman talking to me is wishing she could get out of this conversation, because I’ve mentally popped out. All that’s left is a mysterious smile on my face.
Don’t listen to a word I say
The screams all sound the same