I don’t think my mom is in Iceland.

This was the first piece I voluntarily shared on Facebook after my writing seminar ended. I felt so strongly that people would connect with it. If you came to this blog through following me on Facebook, you’ve likely read this piece before.

The piece was written as a blog-style post for a summer course that I had the pleasure of taking in Iceland with seven other students and two magnificent Wellesley professors. If you’re at all interested in Anthropology, I invite you to take a look down the wormhole that is my final project for that class. It is quite a long read, so if you decide to take the plunge, buckle up!

Otherwise, enjoy the piece below.


“Mamma?”

The little girl in the supermarket is looking for her mother. But she isn’t looking in any particularly anxious way—she knows that they’ll find their way back to each other eventually. I see myself in the little girl. I’m looking for my mother too. I’ve been looking for her all over Iceland. And I can’t figure out where she is.

I looked for her in the Keflavík airport, when I knew we would’ve been separated at immigration because of our different passports.

I saved her a seat once I got onto the bus that would take us to our first hostel.

I looked for her in the croissants we had at our first breakfast in Reykjavik.

I looked for her in the hostel pillows that I knew would’ve been too thick for her, and I looked for the soft travel pillow that I knew she would’ve remembered to pack.

I thought I might find her when we were leaving that hostel in Reykjavik, when I was the last one in the room, looking under beds for lost socks and forgotten items.

I worried that maybe we’d left her in Reykjavik when I didn’t hear her chime in during our ages-long conversations in the car on our way to Ísafjörður. I wondered if maybe she’d ridden in the other car.

I was sure I’d find her in the company of Bergrín Gyða and Sonur Hjördísar, whose gravestones in the cemetery told me that they, too, had been buried by their parents.

I caught glimpses of her in Claire’s phone, where Claire’s beautiful mother smiled at us from the camera roll. I heard her in Heather’s daily check-ins. Saw her in Esther’s stunning photos. Felt her in Sylvia’s morning meditations. Sensed her in Gabby’s quiet contemplation. (Editor’s note: I can almost hear her now as I sit here editing this in Kex Hostel back in Reykjavik, in the live jazz music that I know she would love.)

But I think I realized that she wasn’t there when I couldn’t figure out what she’d say as I gawked at the stunning view of the fjord from Naustahvilft. Or I guess it could’ve been when we went all the way to Hornstrandir and her bright smile wasn’t the one that welcomed us at the dock. When we got back after a day of hiking and she hadn’t called me to check on me.

I thought maybe she’d join me on my morning runs, but then I figured she might have slept in.

I wondered if she’d rise with the midnight sun when I stayed up all night reading a book that reminded me of her.

I thought maybe I’d run into her in the fruit aisle in the supermarket, telling me I really shouldn’t be eating a jelly sandwich for every meal.

I thought for sure the smell of my Jamaican ginger tea would tempt her enough to join me. I almost poured her a cup.

I guess maybe she went to Rome with Dad so he wouldn’t be alone at his track meet. Or maybe she stayed home with Savvi so that Dad wouldn’t worry about her too much. Maybe she went to visit her parents—she hasn’t been to Haiti for a while. Maybe she’s traveling the world.

I don’t think she’s here in Iceland though. It’s a shame, because she’d really love it, I think. I don’t think she’s got cell service wherever she is, because I keep getting error messages when I try to send her pictures, and her phone goes straight to voicemail when I try to call.

If anyone runs into her before I see her again, do me a favor ask her where she’s been. And tell her that I love her. We haven’t spoken in ages, and I want to make sure she remembers. Oh—and please let her know that I looked for her in Iceland, but couldn’t quite find her.

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