Friday, November 03, 2006

"Good morning, welcome to Iceland..."

Those crisply enunciated words greeted me as I answered the phone in a sleepy daze.
What place is this? What is this instrument that is in my hand which I picked up by some reflex action? There is someone talking to me? Such a professional voice- is it a recording? My jet-lagged mind was trying to get into gear, to make some sense of it all...

-"Kristín?" Good guess.

-"Yes, Would you like to get together sometime for coffee? I've got the car..."

-"Oh Yes! Any time, I'm free all day." ...I'm naked, both figuratively and literally...

-"Do you know the bookstore on Laugavegi, Máls og Menningar?"

-"Yes, the one with two floors, I know where it is." Thank goodness, someplace I've actually been.

-"There's a coffee shop on the second floor, met me there at ten o'clock, then?"

-"Yes, I'll be there." Now I am really awake.

-"Be seeing you."

-"Yes, good-bye..." Ten o'clock! It was already 9:20, I had better get myself together!

At the designated time, I was standing on the sidewalk of Laugavegur, idly studying the Icelandic novels on the remainder table in front of M&M books. I had met another blogger in person before, and now, as then, I found myself with that odd feeling, a mixture of high anticipation with just a touch of dread. The voice which I had heard on the phone reappeared, this time embodied in a woman of indefinite age, naturally attractive without make-up, and dressed in casual clothes. My fears evaporated. We went up to the coffee shop, she was having breakfast (Café Au Lait with some pastries) while my stomach, thinking it still 5 a.m., allowed me but a cup of coffee.

There are people whom I find hard to talk to. There are others that I warm up to slowly. And then there are those where the conversation doesn't really start, it just resumes as if you had only stepped out of the room for a minute. When it happens with a person that you've just met, it can be a most enjoyable feeling; it isn't a giddy rush, but it's rather a sense that the world is a good place, that people are good, that our lives can overlap, if only for an hour or two, with conversation and coffee. One problem of meeting a blogger that you've followed for several years is that you know him or her in a very curious way- through their own self-expression and whatever mental image of them you may have constructed for yourself. The rest of the picture- their speech, their manner and body language, is all new. In her case it all came together quite nicely, whereas I may have presented a more subdued persona than is usually exhibited here; I was not Professor Batty, I was only me.


After a couple of hours it was time for her to go, she had an appointment. We walked to her car, through the streets of her childhood, and as we walked she told stories about the houses there, and how she would like to move back into this neighborhood once again, into a "proper house for a family". Days later, as I wandered among these houses they now did not seem quite as foreign- not after hearing about them from someone who fondly called this place home. It was truly a fine welcome to Iceland.

By Professor Batty


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, sweetie.

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