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#31 Iceland Part 5: Dangling from the monkey's swing

It’s been 3 months since my Iceland trip. It’s time to let go.

I left Hólmavík and the whales completely blissed out. I’d managed to nab the last available room at a country inn in Laugarhóll, a town-that-didn’t-appear-to-have-a-town, northeast along a different finger of the Westfjörds. As I drove narrow winding roads alongside the water, I saw flocks of wild swans loitering along the shores, another logging humpback whale, and countless sheep. Iceland was the most magical place I had ever been, and at times it was so beautiful I either cried or giggled.

Unassuming and not very clearly marked, I drove past the inn at least three times before I figured out it was my destination. The man at the desk apologized that he did not know if my room – the barest of bones – even had linens. I told him, “I slept in my car last night. I am happy to be here with or without linens.” He asked me to wait a few minutes while I prepared the room.

I found it with linens. Clean ones.

The room was nothing more than 2 single beds and some shelves. No toilet. No sink. No nothing. I loved it.

Completely unexpected, the inn at Laugarhóll had a wonderful dining room wherein they served an amazing dinner. I sat alone and ate every bite of food put in front or me. I also enjoyed two glasses of wine and alternated between staring out the window and trying to guess what languages the other guests were speaking. As far as I could tell, I was the only American.

I didn’t journal. I just wanted to sit and absorb and be happy. Sometimes words muck that up.

This inn boasted a natural hot spring on the hilly, moss- and rock-covered property (along with a large geothermal pool, of course. Icelanders love their pools, I have learned.). After dinner and with a nice wine buzz, I changed into my swimsuit and sprinted through the cold outdoors to the spring.

It was a hole in the ground with steaming hot water, and it was perfect. A group of young [Russians? Polish?] yucked it up in the neighboring pool, but they weren’t interested in me. I had the spring completely to myself. I soaked and floated in my own silence for at least an hour, launching gratitude rockets to the horizon.

Full of whale-love, hot spring healing, wine, good food, and bliss-fatigue, I slept heavy and deep. When I woke, everything was light.

If I told you I felt beautiful in the morning, would it sound like an odd thing to say?

I showered. My hair dried into free, weightless curls. I wore my dad’s old army pants – the ones he wore through Vietnam, the same dirty black shirt I’d been wearing for days, and no make-up. And I felt beautiful and light and free and strong.

I loaded the car with no real plan other than to take my time driving through Snæfellsness on the slow road back to Reykjavík. My flight back to the US was scheduled for early the next morning, and my Airbnb hosts had invited me to spend my last night with them as a friend.

I drove through vast expanses of moss and rock fields. Mountains. Waterfalls. Sheep. Swans. Horses. Sometimes I stopped. I hobbled out along the moss carefully. I trudged along windy shorelines along the fjords, the only human for miles.

Eventually, I saw a giant rock formation in the distance. I had no idea where I was or what it was, but I decided I would go find out. I found myself on the Snæfellsjökull National Park.

I sat near the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean and watched sea birds circle a deep drop-off. I tried to pick out one and follow it. It disappeared into the ordered chaos of the flock. It was an airport. Or a conference center. Or speed dating. For birds.

I made my way back toward the park office and saw a young couple enjoying what I later learned was a “monkey swing.” A small rubber tire hangs from a rope tethered to a zip line. Stand on the rubber tire, hang on, and zip down to the other end. Feeling light and joy-filled, I wanted to try it.

And so I did. Completely untouched by my usual shyness, I traded some light chit-chat with the young couple (early 20’s?) who turned out to be Canadian. The woman offered to take video of me, and I accepted. And you know what? It was fun. This 43-year-old woman did it twice.

I thanked the Canadians, wished them well in their travels, and we parted ways. Eventually it was time to head back to Reykjavík.

I arrived after dark and spent the next two hours or so chatting about anything and everything with host B in their kitchen. He was kind and knowledgeable, and I wanted to make sure he knew how much I loved his country.

The next morning, I left remembering who I am.

Since returning, I’ve made some changes; and it’s surprising – although I suppose it shouldn’t be – how much my time in Iceland drew a sort of map for how I need to navigate this next phase of my life. I felt welcome and cared for by my Airbnb hosts. I learned it was an okay thing to expect from others--to feel welcome and cared for.

And I learned that manifestation isn't a spiritual trick -- not necessarily, anyway. Sometimes you manifest something simply because you figure out, in a practical sense, how. I felt like the president of my own committee. I could state a desire and create it.

What do you want to do next, Puddin’?

Well, I want to go whale-watching.

Great. You can do that.

And on that last day wandering and dangling from monkey swings with strangers, I felt beautiful and light, free and strong. That felt like me; and it was good.

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