Wednesday 12 August 2015

The Archive of Human Adventure

On the 20th March 2015, I found myself stood upon a glacier in the Icelandic wilderness, miles from civilisation, watching the universe align in the sky above.

I never blogged about my trip to Iceland, which was a simultaneous regret and a confident choice. I always struggle to write about holidays or fantastical experiences after I've returned from them. Like Kim Gordon wrote in her memoir:

 'It's hard to write a love story with a broken heart.' 

That day, my best friend, a Dutch girl, a Danish guy and I, stood beneath the shifting sky and watched with silent wonder as all the colour drained from the world and the moon obscured the sun in a perfect solar eclipse.

It was an experience like nothing I'd come close to ever before. 

Once the sun had resurfaced, it was evident that a new epoch of time was upon us, and we having witnessed it, a new era of our lives too. The four of us clambered down the mountain through the ice and snow until we came to a glacial stream with crystal clear water. 

This, naturally pure from Mother nature, was the stuff they bottled up  and shipped off to sell for ridiculous prices the world over.

There, one by one, we crawled to the rivers edge and drank directly from the stream, the ice cold water revitalising our weary bodies and nourishing our souls.

It felt like a ritual, a consummation, the seal of that something we'd subconsciously declared the moment we'd decided to make this spontaneous trip.

That we were never ever going to be ordinary again.

Before we left the glacier, a woman gave each of us a rune stone - A norse Viking symbol of prosperity engraved in gold on pieces of volcanic lava taken from this one sacred beach. The rune engraved was of the sun god, Thor, in celebration of the eclipse. The stone bore a small golden mark that looked similar to a lightning bolt.  

The moment we got back into central Reykjavik, Greg and I walked into a tattoo parlour and got that symbol inked on our skin forever. Mine, on the middle finger of my right hand, so I can see it as I write. Greg, on the inside of his left forearm, so he can see it when he plays guitar.  

This epiphany of destiny and the tale of that revelation, was something we never wanted to ever forget, alongside the accompanying philosophy to simply always do cool shit.

From that trip onwards, I decided that whenever I do something extraordinary, go on a crazy adventure or achieve a moment of life-altering epiphany, I would mark it forever on my fingers.

One by one, lesson by lesson, tale by tale, over the years my fingers will come to read the story of me, until I am an old wizened grandmother, sitting down with my sprawling brood, to which they'll ask:

'Grandma, tell us another story!'

And I'll hold out my illustrated hands, open my palms and say;

'Well then children, pick a finger'


Yesterday, Greg and I went to the tattoo parlour one street away from our new home, and got inked again. He, a native American symbol of prosperity on his opposite forearm.

And I got an anchor, a seemingly generic, popular, pinterest-friendly design, but to me, it encompasses it all. 

The eight weeks living on a 107 year-old boat in New York City, hauling those rusted chains, scrubbing the decks on my hands and knees, venturing around back to back with Chloe holding hammers and flashlights to investigate the source of the banging at 4am, battening down the hatches in the violent storms, the BBQ's on the top deck and drunken parties when Victoria was away, the seemingly ceaseless hunger and exhaustion,  and most of all the hell she put us all through, the blood, sweat, tears and turpentine that were required to survive life aboard this bizarre little boat in Brooklyn.

And as that needle scratched away at my boney finger, I grimaced in pain, channeling every single memory, every single sentiment and moment of glory and torture and everything I have experienced so far through that needle, into that ink, and it was sealed within my skin forever.

The Icelandic rune was for wonder, and the American anchor was for endurance, each inked in the country of the lesson which was learned, the experience that was earned.

So, who knows what my next little finger symbol will be or the story behind it, but I'm looking forward to finding out, and adding to the archive of adventure that I will carry around upon my human form until the day I should come to leave it.