I counted. I will be spending 31 hours in Keflavik International Airport. As I write this, I’m on hour twelve.
The thing is, I had a choice to do something different, and instead I chose this.
Actually, it was a series of choices. On Friday, I chose to accept an invitation from a newly made acquaintance in Iceland to meet her and a friend for drinks. I knew that I could have only one drink because a) I had money only for one, having calculatedly spent the rest of my Iceland budget on extremely good souvenirs, and b) I had to be ready for the airport shuttle to pick me up at 5am.
Just one. Which should be easy, I told myself, since it’s going to be awkward and you don’t really know these people anyways, so bowing out early will be a relief to everyone.
It was not just one. It was many. My acquaintance, a doppelgänger of Yolanda Visser from Die Antwoord, procured them for me, of her own accord. And it wasn’t awkward at all, and only in part because of lowered inhibition. I liked these Icelanders. I could talk to them about things that mattered. I asked them about their artistic process (they were both artists). We discussed artistic self-doubt, and self-doubt in general, and its root in cultural upbringing. And this naturally transitioned into licorice shots (which are a thing?) and dancing. Because dancing is art. It ties in.
What also tied in was me staggering into a hostel toilet and vomiting for I don’t know how long. Long enough that at some point I looked at the clock and thought “okay, now for an hour of sleep before I have to get up to get ready for the shuttle”. The reader will be utterly shocked to learn that this is not what happened. My alarm chimed for three hours before I heard it, two hours after my shuttle was supposed to get me. The front desk said I could try to flag down a taxi and make it to the airport on time, if I could figure out a way to do that without money. Briefly I considered what it would be like to do a sexual favor to get to the airport. I quickly discarded the idea after being shocked by the images that popped into my head, but took it as information for how desperate I was feeling.
My airline was able to find a different flight for me, at no extra cost, in two days’ time. I felt extremely lucky that this even was an option. So I took it, knowing that I could spend all of that day walking around Reykjavik and take a late night shuttle to the airport to sleep there. For two nights.
I chose not to follow up with the few connections I had in Iceland and impose upon them for those nights. My parents and a few friends of mine even said they had connections, if I needed, in an emergency. I ignored this.
I’m currently at a Dunkin’ Donuts seating area in the Keflavik airport wondering why I ignored this.
Part of me believes it is because I am afraid of complications and new people. Of improvising. Of not being able to predict how things will turn out. My inner critic believes that. And I know that it contains a grain of truth. I really want to go home. So much so that I cried a little when I typed that. Like, really. Like, if one more thing went haywire, and my exhausted, still somewhat hungover, penniless self had to call another stranger or scramble with all my luggage to a new place, I would probably decide that I’ll never make it home and crouch in one of Reykjavik’s very colorful gutters and be absorbed into the Icelandic folklore as the anxious ghost of an Outsider that haunts people’s alarm clocks to make them go off early. Klukkadraugur, they would call me – Clock Ghost.
I am critical of this part of myself that is Klukkadraugur. My critic thinks she is weak and cowardly. And boring. And ruins everything with her anxiety. My critic is thinking that Klukkadraugur landed us in this fucking tiny airport, that only has wooden benches to sleep on.
Another part of me knows that I was Ready To Be Done with vacation. Primarily, with bustle. With being around dozens of strangers, and no friends, and having to act the way one acts around strangers 24/7. Done with going places. Literally done with spending money. Part of me knows that I really like airports, actually. That I got an excited feeling when I thought about how sitting in one place all day borders on a spiritual experience, especially for someone like me, who is addicted to doing rather than being. That enduring having no bed, and only a suitcase, is actually a test of character. Part of me knows I needed an empty space in which to transition and process. Even if it meant being uncomfortable, and foregoing an extra day gallivanting around in a city.
Klukkadraugur needed to be listened to. She needed to feel like somebody cared about what she felt. And I think that, even though I’ll spend the next twenty or so hours in vague discomfort, she will not be haunting me.