Gently, the ripples of the surface of the fjord water splash against the jagged rocks of the seawall. On my perch atop the round dyke of dark rock, I gaze out to a mountain reaching out of the sea, its flat peak blanketed in downy white cloud like the tumbling snow of an avalanche frozen in time. But I struggle to remain with it in this moment. My mind yearns for a touch, a signal, a confirmation that I am not alone. It needs a Facebook notification. I reach into my pocket almost reflexively to give my reptilian brain its fix, but my evolved prefrontal cortex intervenes. I don’t need it. I now theres nothing there anyway.
My attention returns to the water. Beneath its surface, strands of kelp sway in the gentle current. My mind eases back into the slow rhythm of swishing water amidst the rocks, the murmur of passers by at my back, and the pulsing whirr of traffic. Yet underneath my forced calm is a thick, tangled anxiety, stretching deep into my psyche. The weight of its primitive nature holds it down, but when the tide goes out, it will smear the exposed surface with its unsightly, torpid weight.
I’ve been abroad for over two weeks now, and I’ve yet to be disconnected. My international phone service from Google has brought a new luxury to international travel, but it’s also taken out some of the adventure. The last time I was in Iceland, I needed to jump from wifi to wifi to connect to the outside world. Not wanting to pay the high prices of cafes for a secure connection, I either found public buildings or stayed at the hostel. If I left without a plan, it was up to pure chance to happen upon something out of the ordinary. Being such a touristy city, Reykjavík offers little for the stingy backpacker. Very rarely did I find anyone with whom I could connect. Podcasts and music blocked out the world through my earbuds as I wandered alone and snapped the occasional photograph of an unsuspecting stranger or non human landscape. I was alone with my thoughts and feelings even in the buzz of the city.
This time, however, I returned to a comfortable place by the water and, with my mobile data active, arranged a meeting on the fly. Although I’m very glad I made these acquaintances, this expedited form of rendezvous has set the tone for my current travels. As some of my family has noticed, I’ve been rather silent about my new life abroad. When I first cast off last year and during my winter travels, I seemed to have much more to say. This time, however, I just don’t have much to share.
This is not because my time has ben uneventful. Like in Iceland, I have been able to arrange multiple meetings with minimal effort. The difference is that I have already recapped the adventures. My host always asks about the plans I have made and my explorations of the city. My classmates engage in the obligatory smalltalk when I can share the travails of adaptation. I’ve even had my fill of intellectual discussion from the cultural and genetic aspects of libido to the precarious geopolitical landscape. This is not a place where signs read in a strange string of characters or where servers struggle helplessly to decipher my memorized and butchered phrases. No, this is a place of only slight discomfort in learning new customs and where my self-deprecating joke to follow my mistakes get a sincere chuckle. Though I’ve had to listen carefully to understand new accents and limit my use of idioms, I have mostly found ways to express my thoughts and feelings.
I’m sorry, readers, but you’re not my only audience anymore. I have listening ears all around me. What little my reflections produce find an outlet long before I can get to my keyboard, and I don’t have much to wrestle with that would demand the kind of reflective organizing I used to turn to. I’m comfortable here. This is now the second time I’ve lived abroad, and my new home is far more similar to my origin than my stint overseas. As well as externally, internally my life is in order. My priorities are in place and are congruent with my actions.
I just don’t have much to say, but I have a lot to do. I’ll do my best to recap the most eventful adventures, but for now, just know this:
I am exactly where I want to be. Just about a year ago, I mentioned to a close friend in all sincerity that I was the happiest I had ever been. I’ve returned to that state of mind. The daily challenges I face are only the welcomed exercise I must endure to continue on the path I have chosen. The life I have dreamed of for the past year is now a reality. This is literally a dream come true.