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Snertilaus Þvottastöð

By , Stratham, NH

Boeing 757-200 Hekla: I’m full of passengers again.  I house strong emotions sometimes.  I get it.  After all, so many people are moving, have never flown before, are meeting a long-lost relative, are flying to a new job, are flying to their holiday or business destination and are tired physically, mentally, or are anxious from turbulence.  I’m used to this.  As I descend on this cold, dark, night in March, a new emotion enters the stale, crowded, impatient air.  I’ve never carried a passenger this anxious. 

 
Katrin: Little lights rise towards my face.  An electronic ding sounds, reminding me and my fellow travellers that we ought to return to our seats.  I haven’t risen in hours.  I’m almost paralyzed by simultaneous excitement and fear.  I’m ready for London.  Why did I ever leave  Reykjavík?  I’m completely fluent in English.  I love my apartment...why did I ever voluntarily vacate it?  My new home is nice, too.  What about my friends and family?  I want to get up and pace the length of the cabin, for the first time in hours, but I can’t.  Instead, I shift in my seat, meaning I accidentally kick the surly businessman next to me, who glares.  I apologize and turn away, but can’t help feeling dejected about my situation’s uncertainty.  The lights continue to rise and a louder rush of air, coupled with a mechanical grinding, inform me that we must be close because the pilot is readying the wing flaps and wheels.  This gives me another thrill.  I’m really doing this.  These thoughts swirl through my brain in a mental hurricane, along with the observation of my own instability given that the littlest things seem to be triggering unreasonably strong emotional reactions.  I mean, I guess I’m used to it.  It’s happened before, when major things in life change, start, or end.  I guess I was so consumed preparing for this that I didn’t stop to think about potential emotional reactions. My brain is relieved of these ideas when we land and shuffle off to wait in lines.  A dreary expanse of wet pavement.  Lovely.  It’s midnight and I have to find my house again.  This keeps getting better and better.  My turbulent thoughts follow me into the subway car until I emerge at my stop.  The stairs are slick.  My hands shake as I unlock the door.  I fumble around until I remember that my phone has a flashlight, which I use to find a lightswitch.  Wow.  I am surprised to realize that my new home is nicer and more modern than I remember.  After quickly walking through the house to refresh my memory before bed, I re-enter the kitchen.  The tiled floor is made of a sort of olive green stone.  I bend over to look more closely, since there appears to be a slightly skewed tile on top of the floor.  This strikes me as odd until I realize that the extra tile is actually an envelope.  It is addressed to an “Ivor Verner” and is dated two days ago, sent from an Insurance agency in Iceland, more specifically, Seyðisfjörður.  Its steep fjord walls.  That light that shines down at an odd angle.  The switchbacks.  It’s one of my favorite places to visit in Iceland. Although I am exhausted and want nothing more than to lie down after making my bed, this envelope dominates my thoughts.  I should try to get him his letter, since he probably either dropped it while leaving or, for some reason, it arrived after he vacated the house.  Either way, it doesn’t look like junk mail.   I slog upstairs and don’t remember anything after collapsing onto my new mattress.   
a Recently Printed Key: I feel that people disregard, ignore, and don’t pay enough attention to keys in general.  I’m not surprised to learn that Ivor doesn’t think about keys infiltrating his mind the way that he thinks keys enter locks.  I’m a new key, and I don’t have much experience.  But, I can sense a lowering in social confidence and a rise in self-doubt.  I’m worried for Ivor.  He doesn’t know, and won’t know until he might be deeply mired in his new negativity.  I have no way of telling my new owner all this, but I wish I could.  
Ivor: The last boxes of my clothes, furniture, decorations, kitchenware, and other belongings are finally inside.  Thanking the movers who had helped me lug my things up the concrete stairs to the elevator and into this room, I begin pacing around my new home.  Its walls are pristine, adding to the effect of this space serving as my blank slate.  Some words are visible out of the living room’s floor-to-ceiling windows.  I copy them into my journal as “snertilaus þvottastöð” and my underlying fear of communication resurfaces, which is quickly followed by reassurance since so many Icelanders are perfectly fluent in English.  I don’t even know why this came back up.  It’s been proven by airport and transportation workers on my way to my new home at Vatnsstígur 14 apartment 3A.  I don’t know how long that will take to sink in.  Probably longer than the fact of my new living room view.  Much more impressive than the sign for what both Google Translate and my sparse Icelandic-language knowledge told me was a touchfree carwash, is the view of innumerable pristinely white peaks in the distance, the surrounding steep and icy streets, Esja, and Faxaflói.  “Faxaflói, Faxaflói, Faxaflói.”  I giggle at the name for the bay separating downtown Reykjavík from the Atlantic Ocean.  I feel like such an outsider.  I wonder what Icelanders think of English words and if any among them are the cause of repetition and giggles.  I may never know, and wondering isn’t going to erase the fact that I still need to get settled for tonight and begin the exciting, if long, process of settling in permanently.  My phone says that there’s a bakery a couple blocks from my apartment, which is also home to a café.  It’s closing in an hour, so I descend to the street and navigate to the bakery, but not before spending another moment looking like a stunned tourist.  The sun hasn’t even set yet, and it’s 20:00 in March in Iceland.  Weird.  A wave of hunger overtakes my curiosity and I continue towards the promise of dinner.   


Katrin: Where am I?  What time is it?  Why am I on this low mattress, and where did my loft bed go?  My eyes open and send my brain and heart racing.  Light enters the unfamiliarly painted room at an odd angle, and I laugh.  How could I forget I moved to London?  Change of scenery doesn’t get much more drastic than this.  Reinvigorated by sleep and the amusement of my temporary forgetfulness, I swing my legs onto the floor and pull on a sweater to combat the dreariness that, so far, is my only impression of the weather.  In the kitchen, I again notice the unique stone floor.  I turn this thought over in my brain until I remember the envelope.  Oh, yeah.  I pull out my laptop and plug in the man’s name.  Nothing, unless he’s a French spy who lived about a century ago.  Other than walking around, unpacking, and buying groceries, I don’t have much on the agenda for my first day in London.  As I go down the front steps, a new idea pops into my head.  I should talk to the neighbors.  What better to do than meet my new neighbors while also helping to return this letter to this man?  I’ll explore the city eventually, but not today.  I take stunted, careful steps to avoid slipping on the still-shiny sidewalk.  When I reach the steps of my new next-door neighbor’s house which are covered by an offshoot of the sloping roof, I take normal steps until I reach the doorbell.  Bong.  The pause between this regal-sounding, bell-like tone and the door opening is only a few seconds long, but it’s enough time for worries to start circulating through my head.  What if this Ivor guy had dangerous neighbors?  What if Ivor is a bad person and set up this leftover letter for the next tenant to find and then fall into some sort of trap?  I am exasperated by the number of bad thoughts I’ve had recently, but I guess that’s to be expected when you move a thousand miles and immerse yourself into your new environment not even a day later.  I push these thoughts aside and smile as an elderly woman with spiky silver hair opens the door and greets me, a complete stranger, with a sincere-sounding “Hello, there!”


“Hi.  My name is Katrin and I was vondering...” I trail off.


“Well, young lady, you’d better come in.  We can’t stand here getting soaked.”  I weigh the options.  I could be awkward, abrupt, and rude in declining the offer of a friendly seeming neighbor out of unfounded suspicion, or I could accept the offer of this neighborly lady and engage in the simple acts of being friendly, entering a neighbor’s living room, and chatting.  I take a deep breath and decide on the latter.  This was my idea, after all. 


“Sure, thanks a lot.  It’s pretty cold and damp out there.”


“Not a problem at all.  What were you asking?”


“Well, you probably saw, but I just moved in last night.  My old apartment was pretty far away so I didn’t bring my furniture or anything with me.  I came in late and fell asleep almost immediately.”  I’m surprising myself with this chattiness.  I guess being friendly can be contagious.  “But, as I walked in, I found this envelope on the kitchen floor.  I almost didn’t see it at first since it’s such a similar color to my floor tiles.  It looks like it’s from an insurance company or something, and it’s postmarked in Seyðisfjörður, Iceland and addressed to someone named Ivor Verner.  I wondered if you could help me get this letter back to him based on the proximity of your house.”


“Did I know him?  It would be hard not to.  He was what you’d call quite the character.  He rode a purple motorcycle and played the contrabassoon.  He travelled a lot, too.  He’d make yearly voyages to a random place in February.  This year, he went to Iceland, drove the Ring Road, and liked it so much that he decided to stay.  He only came back for long enough to get a visa and arrange for his belongings to be shipped.  This wasn’t an impulsive decision, mind you.  He read anything he could get his hands on about life abroad and always expressed a higher level of interest in the Nordic countries and was always fascinated by Iceland and the Faeroe Islands, but he liked that Iceland was less isolated.”


As I listen to my eccentric but exceedingly friendly new neighbor, I contemplate this odd Icelandic coincidence.
the Living Room Rug: Not surprised at all, I relax onto the tiles to listen to another conversation.  It’s nice to have such a kind owner who’s so friendly and stable.  She picked me up at a secondhand store where I was internally afraid of what was to come.  This woman brought me hope and breathed new life into me.  I think of Alanna the same as I do myself: healthy, happy, unique, and seeking all forms of broadening personal horizons.


Alanna:


Approaching the door,  An offer to come  Maybe it’s her first
a wavy-haired girl in boots        inside is met by shyness            time away from home, lack of
clomps to ring the bell.              and much thought by her.          some surprise says no.


I am intrigued.  Maybe we can be friends, if she warms up to me.  She looks tired, but scans her surroundings with a look lacking recognition.  We talk about the letter she found addressed to my old neighbor for almost an hour.  She then gets up, thanks me, and starts to leave.  “You know you don’t have to leave immediately.  Some people like to be social.”  I think I can get away with this comment because of how nice and friendly she has been, although also oddly formal.  It’s like she isn’t used to talking like a friend. 


“I’m so sorry, I mean, I wasn’t trying to be rude.  It’s just that I’ve newer moved so far, I don’t know anyone here except you, and I was being a little paranoid of others.  It’s really just a part of me that newer-I mean “never”-goes away.”  She giggles.  “Well, now that you mention it, I guess I’ll stay.  It isn’t like I had anything important to do.”


Another hour


passes, I learn Katrin is

Icelandic, just moved.


She just finished at the University of Iceland and a part-time job. 
Recognition,


unidentified.  Silence.


It’s familiar. 


A wave of recognition floats into my head, but I don’t say anything.  I can’t put my finger on it, but something about her college’s name is familiar.  After a snack and (to my surprise) more chatting, she remembers that she needs to buy food and other household items before today is over.  We exchange phone numbers with the promise that she will contact me if she needs any help navigating London. 


Katrin: I’ve barely left the block and gotten over my surprise at myself for socializing, when my phone rings.  It’s Alanna, who exclaims “I know this is going to sound crazy and I know you just left, but hear me out: when we were talking, the name of your school sounded oddly familiar.  I mean, I don’t have any Icelandic relatives...but then I realized that I think my old neighbor and the man whose name is on that envelope of yours also had plans to attend the University of Iceland.  He was about your age, though, because I don’t think he ever went to college here.  You should definitely try to get in touch now!  Anyway, I’m going to be late for my class.  Bless.”  This is an odd coincidence, for sure.  She even knew to say good-bye in Icelandic.  I guess meeting me really reminded her of her connection to Iceland.  It’s crazy for sure, but I really should get going.  I wonder if they’ll have skyr.


Ivor: The next day starts slowly.  Although the time difference shouldn’t have made it hard, I sleep in fits and starts.  I’m expectant of what my new life as an Icelander and as a student at the University of Iceland will bring.  When my phone says that it’s eight in the morning, I plug in directions for a nearby grocery store with the plan to go buy some yogurt for breakfast and other food.  When I arrive at a grocery store called “Bónus,” I laugh at its logo of a cross-eyed pig that looks like it should be a piggy bank.  I wander with my cart through the aisles until I find what appears to be a giant, walk-in cooler.  It’s just that, and instead of yogurt, I see little containers of something that kind of looks like yogurt, but is called “skyr.”  With help from Google Translate and the pictures on the containers, I identify the flavors.  I put some in my cart along with the rest of my groceries.  As soon as I begin the short walk back with my neon yellow, pig-logo-sporting, shopping bags, my phone rings.  It’s a British number.  I’m not expecting a call from anyone there, so this is weird.  I shift the shopping bags to my right hand and answer with my left.  A woman answers.  Her English is impeccable, though it carries the same accent as many Icelanders I’ve encountered so far, which seems odd to me.  “Hi.  My name is Katrin and I was vondering...Sorry.  Wait.  I recently moved to a new house and found a letter addressed to an Ivor Verner.  Are you him?  A neighbor gave me your number.  Alanna.”


I am struck by this woman’s directness.  I hesitate, wary of identifying myself to a stranger over the phone.  She then names the very insurance agency in Seyðisfjörður from whom I bought insurance.  It still could be a scam, but I’m curious.  I’ll risk it. 


“Yes, that is my name.  In fact, I am expecting a letter from someone fitting that description.  I’m out right now, but I’ll be home in five.  I was just at Bónus.”  I have no idea why I tell this stranger where I just went shopping.  She can probably identify me that way. 


Katrin: No surprise there. I guess Alanna was onto something.  Before I can call her, my phone rings again. 
Ivor: “Okay.  I’m home now.  How fast can you get it to me?  It’s kind of important that I return it with the enclosed signed papers soon.  Sorry for the rush.”  She agrees, but also asks for my address.  I again hesitate.  I can’t think of a way to get around giving this stranger my personal information.  It makes sense, since she has to send it to me.  But, I’d be more comfortable if she emailed a scan of the document to me and we went from there.  I don’t think those papers have anything but my old address on them, which she already knows, so she wouldn’t learn anything personal by opening the letter.  Anyway, she seems nice.  It couldn’t hurt if we got to know each other better.  “Sorry, I needed to think about it.  I’m not comfortable giving you my address yet, but would you mind emailing it to me?  My email address is didosanger@gmail.com.”  She agrees again.  “Thank you so much.  Have a good day.”  About ten minutes later, I see a new email in my inbox.  Its subject line reads “Insurance Papers?” and appears to be sent from a user whose profile picture is...vaguely familiar?  There is a bay and some mountains.  But, what is below these things catches my attention.  It seems to read “Þvottastöð.”  It’s familiar.  What is it? The view out my living room window, of course.  I guess someone else could have the same view as me and live in a different building, level, or house number, but I’m tempted to ask her about that picture.  It doesn’t make sense though.  She lives in London, in my old apartment.  I know that.  But do I?  What if she’s faking and lives in the same building as I moved into or something?  That would explain our similar views and her Icelandic accent.  I know she moved to my old home, but what if I moved to hers?  No, it’s too improbable.  I’ll email her again.  That’s what I’ll do.  What will I say?  That I suddenly decided to trust her with my address and I now need to know hers?  No, that’s weird.  Maybe I’ll just ask her if she’s ever been to Iceland.  Still kind of creepy, but a little better.


Katrin: I soon get Ivor’s reply thanking me for the papers.  I expect our communication to be over after this, but the last line of his email explains an almost impossible coincidence.  He writes “I can assume you moved into my old house by the letter you found.  I think there is an even bigger coincidence going on, but first can we establish that I live in Reykjavik and you live in London?”  This sure is a weird email, but I’m curious.  I reply.  “Of course, I don’t have confirmation as to where you are, but I can confirm that I live in London.”  I figure that since he is telling the truth about where he used to live, he already knows where I am.  I’m hoping nothing bad comes out of this.  “More specifically, I live at 128 Englefield Road.  The weird thing is that I used to live in Iceland too.  Maybe you’ve seen my profile picture, but you can tell from it.”  I only say this because he seems pretty observant.  I have no reason to believe that, but it’s just a gut feeling.  For some reason, I feel the need to share my old address.  “I used to live at Vatnsstígur 14 3A.”  I hit send.  I make myself some lunch using the food I bought yesterday.  My afternoon continues as normal, but I’m still curious.  I’m also worried that I didn’t just overshare personal information to an online malicious peron.  What coincidence was Ivor talking about? 


Moving Log No. 1


24 March 2017


Early Afternoon


Kitchen


So.  This is my first entry.  I can’t say that I was too enthusiastic about the idea at first.  My family encouraged me to write things down that I need to think about if I don’t have anyone to discuss them with.  Anyway, I won’t mind having a detailed record of my move.  I haven’t had too many interactions with the general British public so far, but my English is just as strong as my family convinced me it was when I left.  I have a temporary job at a nearby bookstore until September first that starts on Monday.  I’ll work there full time until my teaching job starts at a local secondary school as an English teacher.  Not as a teacher of literature, writing, and grammar, but as a teacher of students who, like me, did not grow up speaking English.  Maybe my plan sounds crazy.  I mean, I didn’t ever imagine I’d ever leave Iceland, but I certainly dreamed enough.  I don’t have anything against the island, but I’ve wanted to be in a more populated part of the world ever since I got my first atlas with population and world demographic infographics.  Now I’m here.  Sitting at my new table in my new home in my new city.  I’m about to teach kids with as much knowledge of English as I had when I was little.  I’m so happy, but I’m also really worried about communicating with my family.  Even though I lived alone in Reykjavik, I saw them all several times a week.  Now, apps are going to take the place of visits.  I wonder when we’ll travel to see each other next.  I’m sure we’ll work it out eventually.  At least, I really hope so.   


My communication with Ivor sure is weird.  He doesn’t come across as a bad person, but then again, isn’t that the impression that all skilled bad people on the internet are supposed to give?  Did I make a mistake in continuing my contact with him?  He already has his letter.  But he seems to be piecing some idea together that concerns both of us.  I wonder if it’s actually something interesting or if he’s going to use the initial friendliness between us as something to hold against me if I turn on him if he reveals himself to be a bad person.  What if he’s just continuing contact with a random stranger because he’s a madman?  After all, unless the letter arrived after he left his house, why would he leave an important document in his old house?  I’ve had this discussion too many times already.  I really should move on.


Anyway, I should get on with my day.     


When I finish eating and writing, I look at my phone to find an email notification from Ivor.  Its subject line consists of the word “what?”  We don’t even know each other.  My heart is racing, wondering what could cause an almost-stranger to resort to such an informal subject  line.  I swipe the notification and press my now-clammy thumb against the scanner but am excited to see the email’s contents. 


Ivor: When Katrin replies with her old address, which I wasn’t expecting her to share, I stare.  It makes sense based on her profile picture, but I almost didn’t believe myself.  Now I have more proof.  I have to keep reminding myself that maybe this is all some sort of elaborate plot to extract my personal information.  I push these fears away and focus on the fact that we have just confirmed that we, Ivor and Katrin, two random humans, are defying all the odds.  How likely is it that we both make life-changing decisions to move from one place to another in the way that we did?  I can’t believe it.  Not even for a second.  But maybe I should.  Unless she’s a hacker (unlikely?), how would she know where I live and then lie about it?


Katrin: The first line of the email cryptically reads “Although we just met today and have really never met, I know your address and you know mine.”  Dang it.  Maybe I was right about Ivor being crazy.  Before I cut him out of my life, I should give the rest of this email a chance.  Maybe he’ll explain that weird sentence, or better yet, that mysterious coincidence?  We both know he used to live at 128 Englefield Road and I live there now.  We both know he lives in Iceland.  I know I used to live there.  I guess I should keep reading.  He goes on to say that he lives at Vatnsstígur 14 3A.  Wait, that’s my address.  No, it isn’t, silly.  I live in London now.  So he means to say that we switched houses?  I don’t believe it somehow.  It’s too neat a story to be true, not to mention crazily improbable.  But, miracles happen.  You never know.  Well, maybe this is bound to happen.  I haven’t heard of it ever happening, so it must have not happened enough times that Ivor and I are the odd ones out, the outliers.  I’m more optimistic about everything today, which is weird.  Maybe talking to Alanna was really the spark I needed to get my transition behind me and my new life started. 


Ivor: I don’t know if it’s my gray surroundings or my jet lag, but my excitement at my new surroundings can’t seem to burn through a shroud of self-doubt that’s fallen on me.  What if I just unknowingly sold my life to an identity thief?  My usual self-confidence is strangely absent.  The day progresses and I call my parents.  I tell them that my new apartment is everything I could have hoped for and that I really love the University’s campus, but I still feel like something is missing.  It isn’t the lack of friends and family nearby, since I’m actually closer to my parents now than in London -they live in Portland, Maine- and my sister who lives in Miami, but I can’t put my finger on it exactly, other than to say that something isn’t right.  I listen to their news, all trivial, and then promise to call tomorrow to keep them posted on my new apparent anxiety.  The last thing I hear is a heartfelt desire to stay in contact with my parents.  “We love you.  More than you could ever imagine.  You’re our only son.  We are glad to help in any way you want.  Just ask.”  Not that I was planning to sever ties with them or anything, but I am alarmed by their words as much as they reassure me.  Did I really come across as being that unbalanced?  What’s wrong with me?


Ivor’s Upper Left Eyelid: I vibrate with the force of unshed tears.  Ivor isn’t holding them back, he just doesn’t see their need yet.  He doesn’t know what to cry about, or what’s wrong with him.  This has never really happened before this badly.  I relax as he pushes away the physical representation of his still unidentified mental quicksand.   


Katrin:


Moving Log No. 2


24 March 2017


Evening


Living Room


At home -well, my old home- I was used to settling down to do something mildly stimulating and then getting distracted by my brain, or rather the barrage of random, unpleasant thoughts that follows me so many places.  Here, I know I’ve only been here for less than 24 hours, but that has barely happened.  This sounds crazy, but I’m reminded of Harry Potter improving in his dementor defense lessons.  He tells himself, upon producing a slightly better patronus that the dementor-voices were as if “coming from a poorly tuned radio.”  It isn’t like I had internal voices or anything, but I see the same improvement he described.  It’s minor, and I hope this starts a trend, but talking to Alanna and successfully navigating that interaction with Ivor seems to have pushed away, at least for now, some of my bad thoughts.  I should find something interesting to do today given that I don’t feel like doing more of the necessary shopping, and I don’t want to sit around doing nothing. 
Ivor: I’m used to sleeping in, but I can’t fall back asleep after waking up at six this morning.  I go through all my seldom-used routines to make myself feel better, like making myself a smoothie and watching a movie under a fluffy blanket after taking a bath, but these do nothing to dislodge the numbness that has settled over me.  As the movie’s credits roll, I ponder what could be making me feel this way.  The northern latitude?  Language and birth country isolation?  Fear of starting university?  Loneliness?  Although it is only March, the days here are of a comparable length to at home, and the climate is slightly coder, but not by much.  I don’t think such a small temperature change could give me Seasonal Affective Disorder this badly.  I’m hardly singled out by language, I’ve already met some other British people, and it isn’t like my old neighborhood was that homogenous.  I’m not scared of starting college, I even have been going to some college preparation workshops which place a focus on maintaining emotional health and stability regarding the transition into university.  I’ve heard from friends that there is a pool easily accessible by bus with many amenities called Laugardalslaug nearby.  Given that I’m kind of aimless and need a distraction, I grab my pool equipment and board a bright yellow bus. 


Katrin: I used to swim in college.  I’m a strong swimmer and have known how for almost my entire life.  Towards the end of secondary school, I joined a local swim team.  I loved the idea, but it wasn’t so great in reality.  Given my innate antisocial behaviors, especially around then, I never fit in with the other kids.  Also, during longer practices, the long stretches of time occupied by nothing but repetitive physical movements and the darkness of underwater were exactly where my insecurities and unpleasant thoughts festered.  I had to quit.  But, today is the beginning of a new chapter.  Although it’s dreary, I saw a pool on the way from the airport and it’s drawing me in.  I haven’t been swimming in so long, and a day like today where I feel better mentally than any day I can remember seems like the perfect time to swim again. 


Ivor: I’ve been here before, and it’s as nice as I remember.  I swim laps.  I hurtle down the slide.  I join the crowd at the seawater filled hot tub.  I shoot some aquatic hoops.  I go through all the motions of having a great time, but the happy feeling seems to bounce off of me like the inflatable ball at the hoop.  After a couple of hours, I shower and clothe myself, and go buy a snack in the lobby.  While eating my skyr, I decide to call my parents again.  I don’t want to bother them, but I’m on the verge of tears.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me.  I should be feeling so happy now, and yet I’m not.  I want to go home.  I hate this place.  Why did I ever move to this foreign wasteland?


Katrin: The chlorine brings back memories of running off the pool deck, shivering, sad, and confused.  That was so many years ago.  I’ve come so far since then.  Instead of being saddened by the smell that I used to associate with general emotional negativity, I inhale the faint smell of the ubiquitous disinfectant and stride into the locker room after paying.  There’s no reason what wasn’t good for me years ago is still bad now.  It’s just a chance to prove to myself how much I’ve grown as a person, even in the past few days.  I tell myself to swim a kick-drill 200 IM, since I haven’t swam in such a long time.  The laps pass.  I sing to myself.  I don’t do anything I used to while swimming, except for reviewing English in my head which makes me lose count of laps.  Some things never change.  I swim more random laps, and leave an hour or so later, reinvigorated by the exercise and further proof of the success of my life changes.  I’m out of practice, so the laps were harder, but I’m also out of practice of channelling my bad thoughts while swimming, and I could hardly be happier. 
Katrin’s Right Swim Fin: It’s been awhile since I’ve been used, and even longer since Katrin’s been happy while wearing me.  It’s a nice change, for sure.  I was worried for her for a while, but she seems so much happier now.  Her kicking is stronger.  Maybe it represents her fighting whatever was going against her.   


Ivor: I guess my parents must be thinking of me, because they pick up on the first ring.  I share everything going through my head.  They listen in silence.  They hear my Angst At Reinventing Myself, my I Have No Idea What’s Wrong With Me, and general ranting about my mysterious and sudden anxiety.  I face the wall, not wanting random strangers to see the tears welling up in my eyes.  It feels good to get it all out, yet I still can’t place the rest of my bad feeling, which only adds to my anxiety.


Katrin: I’m so happy with myself when I return home that I decide to email Ivor again.  I’ve been thinking about how my brain really bothered me when I was in Iceland.  It can’t be happening to him now...we’ve already established such a huge coincidence, but it can’t hurt to have someone to talk to as a friend.  My good mood is making me more optimistic, it seems.


“Ivor:


I’m just getting settled, as I’m sure you’re doing too, but I also had time to go for a swim today.  I was thinking about our moves.  When I have a big change in my routine, it makes me think things I don’t like, sometimes.  It happened when I was living in your new home, I had some mental insecurities and would have loved a friend to talk to besides my family.  For all I know, you’re doing just fine...after all, I really did love that apartment.  Anyway, feel free to email me back.


-Katrin”


Ivor: Still not satisfied, I get on another yellow bus and watch the dirty snowbanks speed by as the bus winds back to my stop.  I open my email, bored.  I’m surprised to see an unread message, but slightly less surprised to see it’s from Katrin.  The subject is “Brains?” and my stomach jumps.  Could she have randomly tapped into my head?  But she has no idea what I have going on and couldn’t possibly understand.  I open the email, suspicious.  “Holy crap.  Holy crap.”  I don’t care if the rest of the bus hears me.  I don’t care what happens right now.  All I see is Katrin’s hand offering to help pull me up.  I feel badly for abandoning my parent’s offers for help, but Katrin’s situation was so much more similar to mine now.  I’ll still tell my parents everything, but she could understand, too.  I shouldn’t get so worked up.  What does she know?  She probably isn’t a psychologist.  Also, what hope do I have?  Maybe it’s the place.  She said that it happened to her while she was living here.  She’s still just a random stranger.  Maybe it’s just yet another coincidence.  I don’t think so. 
Katrin: When I see that Ivor is indeed struggling, I feel so badly for him.  I know what it feels like.  Over the course of several phone calls, after we exchange phone numbers, I feel so much better.  He seems happier to talk with someone who understands.  I don’t know how much it helps him, but it does seem like he’s slightly less overwhelmed when we hang up.  I ask him if he has consulted an actual expert, but he brushes me off, saying that he’ll watch out for worsening and talk to family to see if that’s needed, but he wants to hold off.  It seems like he’s pretty close with his parents, so I’m not worried.  We even get to the point where we are exchanging stories like friends.  A week passes, and I am talking to so many people. 


Moving Log No. 3

 


2 April 2017


Night


Bedroom


I’m still in touch with my family.  I’m becoming friends with Ivor.  I also feel that I’ve chipped into making him feel better, however small my role in his life and insecurities really is.  I talk with Alanna on an almost daily basis, since we often run into each other while walking to and from jobs, activities, and when she walks her dogs.  I’m also grounded by my coworkers, who help me gain confidence using my already-strong English skills.  I still love my new home as much as the first time I saw it.  I can’t wait for what comes next.  My new life is off to a good start. 


Ivor:  I only talk with Katrin because she is really nice.  I’m glad to have another friend, but she has barely helped.  I don’t want to tell her because I don’t want our communications or relationship to change in any way.  The conversations distract me enough in the moment, but do nothing to fix the now almost constant negativity that has settled on me.  I still talk to my parents a lot.  They’re still worried, but I reassure them that I’m not getting any worse.  I don’t know if that helps anyone, but it is at least an answer.  After about three months, they say that they’re coming to see me and my apartment, and how I’m doing.  They couldn’t have visited any earlier because they both had expired passports.  A glitch in the online renewal system didn’t submit their order for about six weeks, without their knowledge.  Although they got the IDs shipped as quickly as possible, they arrived too late.  By that time, they were both studying for law exams, as they had one day decided to put themselves through law school after being bored at their old jobs as professors.  Their studying and exams lasted a month.  They walk in one me watching an informational video regarding surgical procedures used to improve severe mental illnesses when medication and therapy fail.  I’ve been allergic to the primary ingredient in all relevant medications for my whole life, and therapy didn’t really work very well.  My parents understand, although their faces show fear.  I spend the last few days with them catching up and showing them around, though we do often talk about my impending procedure. 


EPILOGUE:


Alanna:
My mailbox holds a  Its contents tell me   For mental problems
new surprise: a letter from       some shocking news: he had a   which started when he moved to
old neighbor Ivor.  choice to have surgery   his new home: Iceland.

Just like Katrin.  Weird.  However, he is recovering well and goes to checkups to make sure the scar continues to heal properly and to ensure he never degrades again.  He stopped talking to Katrin when he had it done, but plans to talk again sometime if she’ll forgive him.  He apologizes for not talking to me as well, since he was in kind of a bad state after he moved and didn’t communicate properly with the right people, but he wants to start fresh now. He makes sure that I know it’s okay to show this to Katrin, since he is busy with his classes and might forget to tell her.  I don’t even know what to think.  Katrin told me some of this, but you can only communicate so much while chatting in passing and working a job while preparing for an even bigger new job. 
Katrin:I had no idea.  None at all.  It makes me a little sad to hear he was going through all of this while putting on a front for many people, but it does sound like he’s doing better now.  I try not to let it get me too far down.  We’ll practice positivity and mental self-improvement together.  I’ll go email him now.  Just like the snertilaus þvottastöð, we passed each other without contact and then later went back.






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