I am sitting in Kex Hostel’s very hip (-ster) cafe and bar in Reykjavik, Iceland. Though we have stayed at Kex, we didn’t stay last night- but the cafe is open to the public, and a great place to get a cup of coffee, wine, dine, or get some work done. It’s spacious, warmly lit, cleverly decorated with a hodgepodge of vintage furniture, and a row of windows lining one wall give you a fantastic view of the ocean. I have my laptop out, plugged into an Icelandic-outlet-to-American-outlet converter. I am sipping on a rather light and zesty beer in a glass mug, seated at an iron-and-wood table, surrounded by the buzz of excited world travelers . Next to me, of course, is Melissa, who is doing almost exactly the same thing as I am, though she is drinking wine.
I have a hint of a headache from dehydration - I forgot to fill up my water bottle before today’s excursion – but I am physically at peace and mentally invigorated. I woke up this morning in a tiny tent just outside of the city, and spent my time since walking through moss-covered lava fields and hiking up the side of a volcano that leaked its intense heat out via steam and boiling mud pits. I ate a hearty dinner, and after a getting a few small projects done, I’ll head back to camp tonight. Maybe Melissa and I will watch a movie on the laptop in the tent before going to sleep.
Today marks the end of the first week of my life as a freelancing vagabond. At the moment, my life is at once quite similar to and remarkably different from the way it was this time last month. This time last month, you might have found me at a cafe or a bar, drinking and working on my laptop, pondering my surroundings, just as I am now. I still make websites for a living, and I will still do that for a large chunk of my day each day. I will still kick back at the bar every so often, taking up conversations with strangers, or occasionally just talking to Melissa about impending adventures. I am not much richer or poorer, yet: the lack of some expenses from my old life – rent, utilities, my vehicle – is evened out by the addition of the equivalent expenses in my new life: lodging, the coffee I buy to access the internet, transportation.
The difference is that every day, when I sit down to work, I sit down somewhere new- a new coffee shop, a new city, a new country. Each night, I’ go to sleep in a new bed or campsite. Every meal I eat, every beer and coffee I drink, every bus or boat or plane I board is an adventure. Nothing is granted and everything is novel- and thus, everything is interesting, and often exciting. There will still be days when I’ll have to trudge along through some abhorrent project (a part of my profession that I hate and dread, and hope to someday, through determined effort and a little good fortune, eliminate). But I’ll never have to take on that project with the feeling that it has confined me, that my work is a ceiling to my happiness, because I can now look outside and see happiness, or at least, see proof that I am living a dream. I love North Carolina and my roots there, and I think someday that I’ll live there again. But for now, I have finally and decidedly pulled up my anchor, I cannot quite describe to you the peace that gives me. Wanderers at heart will understand.
The first lump of the trip, in sum:
- Wilmington to Raleigh via my van (now for sale!), overstuffed with almost the entirety of my and Melissa’s worldly posessions. We talked late into the night with my oldest friends, celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of my parents marriage with my family that I love dearly, and partied in downtown Raleigh so as to say a proper farewell to the city that raised me.
- Raleigh to Washington, DC via the kindness of my good old buddy John, his Acura, and his shy but eccentric puppy, Scuttles. I was amazed at the quality and creativity of the food you can get for a decent price in DC – if you visit, be sure to checkout The Coupe. We also snuck in a Nationals game before we left – $1 tickets and $9 beers.
- Washington to Boston via a severely-weather-delayed US airways flight, causing us to miss our Icelandair flight and spend the night in Boston at Backpackers Hostel. It was a friendly enough experience, and the price and availability were very helpful in our hour of need, but the hostel had little else going for it. As an upside to our delay, we did get to spend a few hours in Boston, and got to try Cuppacoffee, a down-under-esque cafe and coffeeshop, owned by a friendly Aussie and serving good brew and Australian meatpies in a modern little shop.
- Boston to Keflavic, Iceland (this is the neighboring town that houses the Reykjavik Airport) via Icelandair, who graciously re-booked us after we missed our first flight.
- Keflavic to Reykjavik, aboard a posh Iceland Excursions shuttle with free wifi. It was 2 AM before we were checked in to our hostel (Kex, which is probably due a post of its own). At that point, we wandered around until finally locating food at the chain of 24-hour convenience stores called “1011″. I attacked some bacon-wrapped hot dogs, and tried dried fish with butter, a local standard (not bad, if you really like fish).
- Reykjavik to sleep, via Kex Hostel and their fluffy mattresses.
Since then, we’ve been wandering the beautiful city, trying out cafes and the occasional fancy restaurant, fishing with Frenchmen, drinking with Norwegians, and taking tons of pictures. Tomorrow, while I hunker down and get some work done, Melissa heads to the beautiful north.