When I made the decision to travel to Iceland, I did so for no reason other than I must go there. I did not know much about the culture, places to see, or streets I should roam, nor did I have any suitable answer to my primary question: Why must I go? It was a funny thing, the word Iceland always arising first in my mind when I would be asked 'Where do you want to travel?' Before it became a trendy destination, I would be met with incredulous looks. 'Why Iceland?' 'Why not Paris or Thailand or Italy or—any place other than Iceland?' 'Isn't it cold and empty?' These were questions I could not answer with anything other than a shake of my head and It calls.
It was frightening, nearly emptying my bank account on the simple accommodation of a van, plane tickets and such, for a far flung northern land I knew nothing about—but I did it. I knew it was time to see why I must go.
My time there was met with potent healing. I am still, nearly a year later, and I expect this to extend indefinitely, unraveling what I felt, learned, and remembered. The dreams I had awake and while sleeping next to waterfalls and volcanoes are seated at a table next to my soul, fixed and clear. It was a time without time wherein I fused with the land and the stories it held. I could not determine what was me and what was the island's own history—my memories or its ghosts—and I did not care. I did not desire definition. I was a sprig of moss trampled beneath a sheep's hoof and I was the eternal enormity of the sky. My sense of self and my own stories melted into the warm waters where I sat, mixing and collecting down the mountainsides churning into gigantic rivers until they were expelled into the seas. It was the most psychedelic and intoxicating experience I've had, yet I was high on nothing except glacier water I gathered and native blueberries. The earth will get you that way. It was here at the top of the world where I no longer felt alone. Stars have always been my beloved, but now the light of the midnight sun kept them hidden and I saw to loving the ground where I stood. This realization of love being all around me instead of beyond my reach, even when it is 'mere' dirt, will never dissolve. It has given strength to my spine and power to my will, a primeval bond that cannot be destroyed. Many gifts were given and I have stories yet to tell about the summer where I spent my thirty-fourth turn around the sun, in my greatest love affair with that island of the north.
I write this to say: that feeling of I must go has returned, this time to a very different place, the deep mountains of western North Carolina. Sunlight has a particular way it dapples through the thick canopy of trees in the south. Everything within sight is myriad shades of green, illuminated and alive. This is what I have seen for the last twenty-some years when I close my eyes and in dreams. I want to return to the summer that bore me and has haunted me since I left. I don't know why I am called but I have cultivated a habit of heeding this sort of demand without question, for it is always met with wonder.
I leave this home I have in the wild desert for an indeterminate time, until what needs to be done is done. I imagine I will while my days away writing, at a desk in a very old house and sitting on its grand porches. I will walk with my dog along streams and rivers, following them until the brush grows too thick and water falls, listening to the ancient stories of Appalachia. I will certainly look upon the endless farm lands and hope I am circling ever closer to settling my life on one, hands in dirt, growing, learning, loving.
I will send (post) to you pictures and words.