It was 10:00pm in Reykjavik in the late spring of 2018.
The breeze was cold and the sun was still setting, much to the surprise of me and my new friend, a fellow guest at the hostel I had just checked into for the night.
Coming directly off of a flight from London, via a pricey — but friendly — cab ride from the airport, I arrived tired and hungry to the small room with the bunk bed I would be sharing for the duration of my 14 hour layover in Iceland. I had been anticipating this layover for months. When I booked my flight home to Baltimore after having spent the last 5 months studying abroad, I saw a 14 hour layover in Iceland as the perfect chance to see once last place before headed back to normalcy. It was to be a chance to see one more country I knew absolutely nothing about and knew absolutely no one in, an adventure at it’s finest.
For what precious little I did know about Iceland, I had read somewhere or talked to someone once about the midnight sunsets. Given my track record, theirs a likelihood that I stumbled across the information on a Pinterest post. I was also hoping to catch a glimpse of an aurora borealis, though it was now off season. I was hoping to witness something spectacular.
At the time, I was also cementing my love for video and photography. Though few photos of my Iceland trip survived what I refer to now as “The Great Data Wipe of 2019”, when my hard drive storing photographs taken from about 2014 – 2019 crashed without any hope of resurfacing my precious photographs, the few images that remain tell a story of a young woman (me) falling in love with adventure and committing to bringing her camera along for the ride. This story is one of my personal favorites.
After having dinner with my new hostel friends, including a older missionary man who spent much of our dinner conversation trying to convert me, I head back to my room for and equally as spiritual, but far more enlightening conversation with my roommate before she eventually left for her own flight and I finally fell asleep. I woke up early the next morning.
My flight must have been scheduled for sometime in the early afternoon and I wanted to get the most out of my time in Iceland so I headed out with my camera to explore.
Without a car and having spent most of my money during my previous month and a half living in London, I couldn’t do much but wander through the small Icelandic town near the airport and my hostel.
I headed out on foot, with my headphones in, and my hands going from excitedly firing my camera trigger to desperately hiding within my sweatshirt pockets. The cold whipped my face, my body begged me to go inside, but all at once, my curiosity and lust for images kept me wandering the desolate streets looking for anything I could photograph.
Eventually, it started to rain. This, was when my love for photography and adventure was cemented. It’s when I chose passion over sanity, probably not for the first time and certainly not for the last, but it was a moment I can remember so clearly that it has become, for me, THE MOMENT symbolizing my transition.
As the cold rain began to drizzle, my shoes started collecting water, my socks soaked it up, my feet turned numb.
My hands had long given up, I couldn’t feel a thing, but I pressed on, fore finger stubbornly glued to the trigger. I kept on this way for about 20 minutes. It stopped and started raining about a hundred times until eventually I decided it might be a good idea to change my clothes and warm up before my flight and perhaps, lord willing, return home in good health.
Though detrimental to my hands, the experience was essential to my soul. I learned the lengths I’d be willing to go in order to explore, the discomfort I was willing to withstand for the sake of telling a story. In many ways, that layover confirmed what I was already coming to understand about myself — at the heart, I’ve always been a voracious experiencer and storyteller. And knowing myself just a little bit more, is the greatest gift an adventure could give me.