Tonight, while walking the now empty streets of Reykjavík, it has finally hit me. My time here in the world’s northernmost capital is sadly coming to an end. Visiting and exploring Iceland has always been a lifelong dream of mine but now, I can proudly say that I have crossed that box off my to-do list. As we head to the airport in a few hours, I have had time to reflect on my journey here.
“There isn’t much that I feel I need. A solid soul and the blood I bleed.” “My Girls” by Animal Collective
“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.”― Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” – Cesare Pavese.
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”-Rachel Carson
“Everyone should have themselves regularly overwhelmed by nature.” -George Harrison
“My life just seems to take me where I’m meant to be.”- Dusty Springfield
Home. It’s an interesting concept. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a very prideful person. I lovingly embrace my roots and it is fully displayed. Where I come from, the people in my life that have shaped me, my environment, my attitudes and beliefs, the mentality of my surrounding, etc. One of the reasons why I feel so strongly about this is that I had no control over it. I did not choose to be born and raised in Southern California, I did not pick out my loving parents, an awesome brother, aunt, and amazing boyfriend.
Since I have moved to Chicago for school, I have had time to really think about this for about two semesters. In reality, it does not matter where I was born. I am here and I have a presence and impact on this Earth for a reason. A physical place can be your home for any amount of time, however, it is people and memories that are truly a home to a human being. I am not only from Southern California, I am from Earth. Earth is my home as it is for everyone else, we are one. I realize that sounds extremely cheesy but that is a fact. Iceland is just as much as my home as it is with the natives and locals here too, whether it feels like it or not. Although, I must admit I am struggling with that concept. I am the first person ever in my family to have set foot in Iceland (not many people get to say they’ve been to Iceland in the first place). There are no loved ones here, no heritage or ancestry, no connection at all, just filled with strangers whose language I do not understand. It has occurred to me, on this trip, that I need to accept this fact even though it might be scary, uncomfortable and foreign.
Southern California will forever be my home. It has raised me and taught me harsh life lessons throughout the years. It’s where I came into this world, took my first breath, where I had my heart broken and my heart mended. It is and forever will be, a part of who I am. It has shown me how to love and be loved, how to deal with pain and loss, how to grow and mature, how to handle responsibility, and that it’s okay to fail but not to forget to stand back up when I have fallen. But more importantly, it gave me a chance to realize what kind of person I want to be and the life I want to live. Southern California gave me my strength and last year, when I needed it the most, Chicago reminded me I had that strength. I would have never imagined, let alone considered about having to leave my home and the people I love here, but it makes it all the sweeter when I return and I fall in love with “my home” all over again. Never have I been more proud to say where I’m from. SoCal, I love you and I will miss you as always. Thank you for being an amazing third parent. Let’s see what the rest of this year has in store for us.
“Live, travel, love, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.”- Jack Kerouac
I would like to thank everyone involved with Iceland Airwaves 2015, IcelandAir, Reykjavík Excursions, the people at the Blue Lagoon, CenterHotel Skjaldbreid, IcelandAir Hotel, the Iceland Design Centre, the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture, the Icelandic Ministry of Innovation and Industry, Ingvar Örn Ingvarsson from Promote Iceland, Special Tours, the band Æla and their talented members, Hafþór Skúlason, Hallbjörn V. Rúnarsson (Halli Valli), Sveinn Helgi Halldórsson, Ævar Pétursson, my incredibly wonderful interviewees, Halla Helgadóttir, graphic designer and Managing Director of Iceland Design Centre, Jóhannes Þórðarson, architect, Gláma/Kím Arkitektar and representing the Minister of Education, Science and Culture, Aðalheiður Atladóttir, architect, Pétur H. Ármannsson, Section Director of Environment and Planning at the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland, Bjarki Gunnar Halldórsson, architect, Columbia College Chicago, Columbia College Chicago’s Radio Department, my awesome classmates, and of course our amazing instructor Althea Legaspi, thank you Althea!
But more importantly I would like to thank my amazing family which this would not be possible. The person that I am is a result of being blessed enough to have them. They are my everything and without them, I would be nothing. They are my home. I love you with all my heart.