Thursday, February 16, 2006


I have been thinking about Iceland a lot. It all started with notices that the Powerball lottery has reached an almost unheard of, absurdly high jackpot: $365 million. And, of course, how that kind of money would buy me not only a really nice home outside of Reykjavik, but maybe I could buy the whole friggin' country.

This morning I went back to read my travel journal from my trip there a few years ago, and came across this paragraph, which I wrote about our flight from Akureyri back to Reykjavik. It's not about the country exactly, but I enjoyed reading it again:

If it’s possible, imagine a smaller plane—the window seats are also aisle seats. You have to squeeze your body into the chair, and there will be no beverage service this morning. The view outside is just as gorgeous as before, but the air is choppy, and the plane makes a few too many (some would say one is too many) jerks and sudden dips. The mind goes immediately to the macabre: wings aflame, the dropping of oxygen masks from the overhead, and our identities distilled to a simple, solemn “two Americans were aboard” when the incident appears on CNN. We’d survive for a few days by melting snow and consuming the flesh of the dead—isn’t that what happens in movies? Or perhaps, since life seldom mirrors beach-reading, we’d just black out and that would be it. Forty minutes later, as we land in Reykjavik, I pry my legs out from under the seat in front of me, and the first line of some Brecht poem, the name of which I’ve forgotten, whispers itself out of the back of my brain. “You, forked out of the sardine tin…”

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