The Colors of Reykjavik Still Call to Me

This essay was my winning entry to the Iceland Writers Retreat's contest to attend the 2nd annual event in 2015. Happy reading!
January 30, 2015

The Colors of Reykjavik Still Call to Me

Dear reader: This essay was my winning entry to the Iceland Writers Retreat’s contest to attend the 2nd annual event in 2015. Happy reading!

The colors of Reykjavik still call to me. I blink and see incandescent imprints of a place whose rooftops, streets and sidewalks bubble with brilliant banners of color that silently sing, Here, the colors of life are let burst and blossom.

I walked those streets two years ago but the colors of Reykjavik still grip me.

I was less journeyed then, in life and as a writer. Iceland will forever remain the first nation I visited beyond my own, and the first I traveled alone, but what I felt in Iceland has been calling me to return ever since.

It’s said that Iceland sees many gray days. My fifteen days and nights there were shrouded by a stubborn cloak of summer clouds. Teasing raindrops sprouted on my forehead wherever I walked; gentle mists washed over the broad-faced windows of Te og Kaffi whenever I sat inside to write.

And yet, the colors of Reykjavik still shone through, as if to spite the gray.

I still see the gleaming ivory of Hallgrímskirkja; the very walls that support it cascade like a two-faced waterfall into a supple grass sea that surrounds. Burnt orange shingles of a rooftop drip over faded lemon plaster; homes of oyster and chocolate brown are topped proudly with crowns of blue and heavenly shades of cream. Lime leaves shimmer above Laugavegur. An exquisitely manicured rainbow of well-worn books is nestled in the bar counter at Laundromat Cafe. And, towards the bay, stands the prism Harpa, sea-glass green windows wink in freckles of violet, blue and peach, each shimmering at their silvery elbows.

The writer in me has carried these vibrant memories as inspiration from a people who need no convincing that art makes life brighter. In Iceland I saw the droll, the melancholy, the gray out-willed by artful living. It has taken me two years to understand the colorful spell that Iceland cast upon me: I want my words to burst with color, to spite the gray.

If the people of Iceland need little convincing to embrace all the colors of life, many still do.

I write not only for a love of words and to live well; I write to stir love.

I write that my words may burst with light to illuminate the sometimes-idle colors of a soul—in the same way that vibrant Reykjavik ignites a cool gray day.

I wish for strokes of black ink to burst with color and life where there is darkness. My words are my sutures; this is how I am called to heal. To give. To serve.

The colors of Iceland have still not left me. When I blink, I see them all before me. I think they have much left to teach me. I wish to return that I might drink them all in again, and fall color-drunk once more, and learn to better make my words into a vivid, kaleidoscopic medley of prose, to spite the gray.

dave-signature1