The international airport in Iceland is at Keflavík, formerly the site of a U.S. Air Force base. Icelanders still call the area “Little America”; there are a lot of fast-food restaurants and basketball courts. Reykjavík is a forty-minute bus ride away, with the North Atlantic on the left and a vast lava field on the right: jagged black rocks wearing startling green moss. If the weather is bright, it feels like traveling through a dream. If the weather is brooding, it feels like another planet.
I came to Iceland on a Fulbright grant to write, research, and teach. I must confess, though, that I have spent most of my time merely enjoying myself. In my first month here, I climbed a volcano, picked wild blueberries, hiked on a glacier, soaked in numerous hot springs, and ate an unbelievable number of hot dogs. Icelanders love hot dogs. They are probably the only people in the world who can look elegant while eating hot dogs.
I both survived and enjoyed the dark winter, which was, in truth, quite mild. Now the sun slips below the horizon around midnight, and starts to rise again about an hour later. It’s beautiful, strange, and a bit sad. Today is my last day in Iceland; though it will be very long, it won’t be long enough. I’ve loved my time here. I’ve loved the people I’ve met here. I’ve even come to love some of the food, though it’s a love with some reservations. The previous nine months have been odd and exciting and exhausting and exhilarating; I don’t want to let them go. In too few hours, I’ll board a bus that will take me through the lava fields to Little America, and toward the real thing. It will be nice to get back to my old home, but it will be hard to leave this life behind.