The theater is dark now.
A solitary couple, with matching grey hued short haircuts share a cross look. Glancing behind them, they look at the girl, who is shamelessly drinking a tall glass of wine, munching on popcorn, and snapping pictures.
That girl, of course, is me.
When I started this trip (yeah, I know it was just a week ago), I cited my own uncertainty of my future as a reason for wanting to do some solo exploration. For the past year or so, I’ve fought the whole “I don’t know what’s going to happen” feeling with activities.
Busied myself. Took standup comedy classes, tried to cram a foreign language course in (I’ll be back), buried myself in work, worked with the local Wilmington play community, bought a house, spent time with my dog.
It never felt empty. But at times, it felt aimless.
Sometimes it felt like even though I knew, objectively, what I wanted in my life… getting those things was a slow, tedious, torturous process.
Hence the extracurriculars to distract.
I really started doubting my gut. My once trusted gut. I honestly started doubting the existence of God at all. Not in a cynical, I didn’t get what I wanted kind of way. More in a “I’m exhausted of always being wrong,” kind of way.
My feelings, fortunately, have changed (more about that in another post), partially due to a hot, sweaty trip to a beautiful Porto cathedral, but mostly due to this:
When I was with my friend Melissa the evening after her wedding, she asked if I remembered a list I had made her when we were fourteen.
“What list?” I asked, taking a bite of my steak (super dope steak).
“The list of the qualities of the man I was going to marry,” she said, in an encouraging tone.
I thought about it for a minute, and the memory faded back into view.
Sitting in Melissa’s childhood bedroom. Her rose colored – or was it brown – carpet. Jotting down characteristic after characteristic, all while seeing a hazy looking, tall, dark hair European man in my mind.
(Yes, I even knew he would be European.)
“Melissa….” she says, bringing me back into the present.
“Aaron has every single characteristic from your list, except for not speaking multiple languages.”
“He doesn’t speak multiple languages yet,” I reply, and we laugh.
It’s amazing to me that #1. I had this kind of sense at such a young age. #2. I forgot about it. #3. That I once trusted myself so much.
It was a real oh shit moment for me.
Rapidly approaching my 30, my one 20s takeaway is this: you know so much more than you think. Sometimes you forget, because some things take a lot of time. We all only have one course in life, and it’s an intricate, purposeful path.
Despite my impatience, I’m not supposed to be a published writer yet. I’m alone because there are things to learn, strengths to gain. When Melissa and I spoke about the list, she also shared a few things she wrote to me for my birthday letter.
She said I was brave. She said she watched me put myself out there, especially this past year, and that she was proud of me.
“I’m not brave,” I replied to her, turning red. “Just naive and a bit ignorant.”
The joke didn’t land.
“Don’t do that.” she said, shaking her head, as if I offended her.
“Don’t do that. You are so brave.”
It’s difficult for me to see my journey from a higher level. I think that’s how it is for everyone. I think we all feel frustrated and conflicted when we’re zoomed in, so we beat ourselves up for not having everything figured out. For wanting more.
On my last night in Reykjavik, I felt pangs of expectation. I felt pangs of loneliness, and wishes for something more adventurous, romantic to happen. I wanted so badly, to walk away with another great story or experience that would help me fit all of these pieces together.
But after thinking about the conversation with Melissa, about the list, (and a bunch of other little things I’ll share in another post), I accepted that there wouldn’t necessarily be another great story or adventure to close the trip out with.
Letting go of my expectations, I bought a ticket. I walked into the small theater, and was greeted by a smiling, handsome face. I looked into those soft, brown eyes and felt a small snippet of happiness.
It was my last night in Reykjavik, and what I actually wanted to do was just go see a film at their independent movie theater, Bíó Paradís. It wasn’t overly glamorous or exciting, it was just what I wanted to do.
So I spent my last few dim, precious, Iceland twilight hours with Adam Driver, watching his new indy flick. I drank red movie theater wine, ate stale ass popcorn, and took a picture or two (no flash) of the screen.
Just as a reminder, of it all.