Plokkfiskur & Norse Lore
On Saturday, the ladies who run this place (Una and Rosa) needed to paint the kitchen in the house I’m staying at. I’d gone to the studio for the afternoon, not thinking anything of it until I get a text from Una saying the kitchen and basically the whole house now smells like toxic waste. So my housemate and I didn’t have to spend so much time in the fumes, Una invited us for dinner. They felt bad about the situation, but I was really quite excited to have dinner plans. I enjoy a lot of alone time, but I have had my share of it these past few days. A little conversation was a welcome friend.
Nisa, my housemate, and I walked to Una’s house up the road around 8:30pm. Tumi greeted us at the door with a wagging tail and shredded egg carton in his mouth. We sat around the table as Una served us Plokkfiskur, what she described as an Icelandic working class meal. It was perfect— a mixture of fish, potatoes, onion, cream, and spices.
The main course soon turned to tea, with which, of course, came more conversation. It was a revelatory moment for me. One where emotions deeply masked find a home to start showing their face. Una spoke of a lesson her father bestowed upon her in a time of a youthful minicrisis. “Una,” He said, “you must talk to yourself.” It’s the idea that you must treat yourself how you want others to treat you. If something feels off, ask yourself, “What’s going on? Why are feeling this way.” And then—listen. Sometimes it’s your small self telling you you are scared, confused. You need reassurance, comfort. Other times, your big self needs to protect your little self. Maybe you need to walk away, make new acquaintances, or simply say no. I can’t say I quite know what my little self is trying to say, but I will be here asking and sitting down to listen.
For round two, or maybe three, of tea, the new volunteer came to join us. It must have been around 11pm at this point. The sun was slightly hiding. I’ve been reading the Elder Edda, a collection of poetic Norse folklore, so we began talking about the edicts of the old gods and the current community of those who still follow this tradition, known as Ásatrúarfélagið. Una pulled out a deck of Viking Cards used to read one’s fortune. You pick a card and there is an accompanying book with text that further explains its significance. We each chose a card and Una translated our fortunes on the spot. My card was the Holy Place card, which advises me to embrace instances of solitude, to engage with nature, and to find a place of comfort and peace where I can recenter. I’d like to think that is the journey I am currently on here in Iceland. I’m here to disconnect from the many directions life has been pulling me in, so I can ask my little self what we want and have the silence required to hear the answer.
“What is it you really want, Lauren?” I guess we’ll see.