The above is true. I miss seeing those Viking descendants around everywhere I go. But anyway...
I'm back in America! I feel amazing, like I've discovered that I have a species after not knowing what I was all this time. I also have a natural habitat, and an ideal diet, and a culture and things like that, what fun! So I'm back, and I'm not sad at all... I definitely did NOT cry at any point as I left Iceland. No, sir. Not even one tiny little tear.
FINE, if you insist on nagging me, it was hard to leave my homeland! It felt like having a bandage torn off my heart very, very slowly. First I left Reykjavík, and that hurt. Then I looked out the windows of my grandparents' house at the sea before bed, knowing it was my last night there, and the bandage ripped a little more, and that hurt. Then people came over or called to say goodbye, and I felt a little better when they said I should stay, but it still hurt. Then it's to the airport with my grandpa and the final hug and kiss until next time, and the bandage rips a little more, and that one really stings. All these "last" things. Last Kókómjólk, last Egil's Apelsín, last stranger greeting me in Icelandic. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Last mountain glimpse. Ouch. But each little pinch reminds me that I know I have a place to miss this much, and people there too, and that starts to make me feel better. The ties that bind. Lucky to have such things.
I didn't do a good job of keeping up with posting while I was gone, so rather than do one huge post now I'll break up the stories into smaller, easier-to-digest posts over the next couple of weeks, as I think of them. Today I bring to "the masses"....
The Ís Rúnt.
Although the official national sport of Iceland is glíma, a form of wrestling, I maintain that the true national sport of our small yet mighty island nation is the ever popular ís rúntur, or "ice cream cruise." (Pronounced "ees" as in "geese" and "roont-oor", or in its conjugated for "roont".) Not a cruise like touring around on a boat, but the verb "to cruise," like driving around in your car. And to an Icelander, the only way to drive around is with an ice cream in your hand, which you usually order from a drive-through window at a shop. This is especially impressive when the natives eat not only ice cream cones, but ice cream in a cup with a spoon, while simultaneously shifting gears in a manually operated vehicle. The point of the ís rúnt is to drive around (usually at night), eat ice cream, and stare out the window at your surroundings, or as they say in Icelandic, glápa, which means to stare or gawk at someone or something. A good ís rúnt can last anywhere from a quick thirty minute jaunt to a good thorough two or even three hour session. You look at houses, neighborhoods, people walking by, you especially look at other rúnt-ers in their cars. In Europe, there is very little of this "polite negligence" that American culture has. You don't have to pretend that you're not looking at the people in the other cars around you, no no no. Feel free to make eye contact with them and openly talk about them, sometimes even while pointing as you do so. It's o.k. that they know you are talking about them, as they are probably talking about you too. It's all part of the fun of the ís rúnt!
Glíma Ice Cream
I went for a couple of epic rúnts while I was at home. One was with the illustrious Helga and Jóhanna of myth and legend, and lasted at least two-and-a-half hours. We went into the suburbs around Reykjavík and mostly looked at houses and commented on them. I normally don't spend much time looking at houses, but during an ís rúnt it is important to participate fully, and many of these houses were especially beautiful ones out in the countryside. By the end of the rúnt we had decided that the three of us have impeccable taste in architecture, and that we should all marry well and buy three houses with all of the yards backing up to each other to make one giant yard. In this yard we would install lots of trees for privacy and ambience, a greenhouse, some horses, a vegetable garden, each house would have its own hot tub, swimming pools, etc. I think we also decided to start a flower business where we'll save money by growing the flowers ourselves in our giant greenhouse. Everyone agreed it is far better to have a small house with a big yard than a big house with a small yard. All important life decisions are best made while eating ice cream in a car. I also pulled a muscle in my neck from craning it to stare out the window properly for that length of time.
The other epic rúnt was with my uncle Jón, who has often been compared to a god walking among mere mortals, and his three adorable daughters, in Keflavík. We drove out to some stables outside of town, and he let me use his car to practice driving a manual shift. I say the practice session was a success, Jón says it was a disaster. Then I got to hold my youngest cousin, Sólrún, who is a beautiful golden-haired little 18 month old girl, while she fed dandelions to Icelandic ponies. Life doesn't get much better than that. Since I mentioned her I will also say hi to her sisters, Guðrún and Júlía, who are also extremely cute, lots of fun, and very good at gymnastics! Hæ stelpur!
I think it would be fun if we had competitive ís rúnting. Prizes could be given for several different skills involved in this time-honored tradition, including but not limited to:
Best Staring At People Walking On The Street
Best Staring At Houses
Best Staring At Other Drivers
Driving Through An Obstacle Course While Staring At Other Drivers Without Crashing
Best Driving While Eating An Ice Cream Cone (separate categories for manual and automatic cars)
Best Driving While Eating Ice Cream In A Cup (separate categories for manual and automatic cars)
Longest Rúnt By A Single Driver
Most People In A Single Car (all passengers must be able to eat their own ice cream or they are disqualified)
Fastest Delivery Of Ice Cream Through A Drive-Through Window
Most Ice Cream Eaten During A Single Rúnt
Most Gossip Done During A Single Rúnt
BEST Gossip In The Rúnt
The possibilities are endless.