fimmtudagur, júní 08, 2006


My brother and I went today to that bastion of urban American consumerism, the Cambridgeside Galleria, because it was pouring solid rain and I had to pick up some cheap underwear. (The Land may be known for glaciers and geysers, but not cheap underwear.) The pouring rain ruled out Downtown Crossing, my normal consumer haunt of choice in the Hub.

Wandering around the chaos of the early-afternoon mall, I decided to splurge and buy myself a water massage. You know, 10 minutes of lying face-down in a tanning-bed-shaped contraption while water jets pound your back. It was something I had always eschewed, but hey, today was vacation.

When I emerged from the (well worth the $12, except for the "relaxing music" pumped through broken headphones) massage coffin, bleary-eyed and looking for my glasses and shoes, it was into the midst of a circle of 10 or more people, standing around waiting for a turn: I had attracted a crowd. The locker that had my stuff in it was inaccessible, because three shoppers had piled it high with their many bags, and the girl running the show asked them to move them aside so I could get my stuff.

The three shoppers had a familiar look, and then, lo and behold, a familiar vocal lilt. They're all speaking Icelandic. For some reason this didn't really surprise me and I jumped right in, telling them I dug the water-massage, asking them where they lived, and talking about KR's chances in Landsbankadeild. They were genuinely happy to talk to me, and the fact that I was wearing the Icelandic shield on my T-shirt only helped matters.

We said our sjaumsts and I met back up with my bro and told him my amazing fortune. But as we walked along through the mall, I started to realize that the language was everywhere around me. Icelanders were in little clusters walking together, talking on benches, picking out sandals in Old Navy, waiting in line at the Gap dressing rooms. We might as well have been in Kringlan. Some of the same people I flew over with recognized me in the Gap and we fired up another conversation. Later I needed to get by someone else and last-second remembered to say "excuse me" instead of "fyrirgefdu" but then even she turned out to be from Iceland. It was really something to feel like part of the diaspora, but also a little sobering: it seems now like the Land has established its rocky fjord-fingered hold and will forever pull me back, even from the Americana glitz of a shopping mall in the city of my birth.


Blogger Unknown said...

Man, I never run into cool Icelanders in Cambridgeside. Only creepy dudes who want to massage my hands. Yeesh.

Blogger JB said...

Some of them were "cool", but there were a couple Joe Icepacks in there as well as a lot of Kopavogur grandmas. I really don't want to reinforce the stereotype that all Icelanders are inherently cool/hip/trendy. But it's still nice to hear the language.

Blogger Bill said...

I have always wanted to experience Iceland. It looks so beautiful there.

Blogger Paul said...

i love the "Joe Icepacks" line. it was good seeing you.

Blogger cK said...

Too weird. That mall trip is like a scene from a David Lynch film.

Blogger Little Miss Loopy said...


Nice running into you last night. We should definetly think about having another blogger-meet-up :)


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