Last September when I boarded Delta flight 0446, I was on a mental rollercoaster. On my way to the airport, I received a phone call with a fantastic opportunity for my career. I accepted, got to the airport and immediately ordered a Bloody Mary.
Not only was I about to fly off to Iceland with my best friend, Brandon, I was bringing a fairly dark chapter to a close and making the choice to start a brand new book. Damn right I ordered myself a Bloody Mary!
On the flight over, I watched The Devil Wears Prada (this is standard) and did my best to keep calm. The flight time from New York City to Reykjavik in Iceland is almost equal to a flight out to Los Angeles so I didn’t feel any extra anxiety while up in the air. I do remember taking a Xanax just to level my nerves but, again, I was able to watch Meryl Streep make Anne Hathaway squirm while serving all sorta of face. I was fine.
Touching down, Brandon and I picked up our rental car and began the drive out to the southeastern section of Iceland. The drive was longer than our flight but it was all worth it. Yes, it rained for the majority of our trip but I wouldn’t change one moment of it. I was able to feel the biting wind go through my bones, cold rain hit my face and leap from a large rock moments before a wave from the North Atlantic Ocean.
Just days prior to this, I was emotionally drained. I felt lost in my career and struggled to tap into my creativity. Less than a week later, I was standing on a cliff overlooking a powerful, magnicifent body of water. If I just stretched my hand out far enough, I’d be able to drag my finger down the glacier that floated in front of me. I felt magical.
While New York City, Paris and Chicago (yeah, I said it) have a deathgrip on my heart, Iceland proved that even a city boy could fall in love with nature. No matter where we went, we were surrounded by beauty. And by day three, I was so fucking tired of it (yeah, I said it).
Every cliff, every glacier, every rock formation, every…fucking…moment was beautiful. I had to pinch myself when we arrived at the cabin we rented through Airbnb. The house was placed on a large, isolated plot of land with its own church, the ocean just meters beyond the property. Maybe if the weather had been better, I would have enjoyed it more (which is saying a lot because I loved every minute) but after a few days in, I was ready to feel the security of concrete. I was ready to dash into a bar for a quick drink. I was ready for stop signs and traffic lights.
I got all of that and more because I was with my best friend. I had moments where I wanted to punch him right in the nose because to know Brandon is to know patience. However, I wouldn’t have chosen any other travel partner for this adventure.
Five days later when we touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport, I couldn’t help but smile. I wasn’t rich, I wasn’t in a relationship and I didn’t have the apartment of my dreams. I’m sure the list outlining what I didn’t have could’ve scrolled through my mind for quite some time. But it didn’t. All I could say to mysef was “This is my life.” I was so fortunate to do so much travel in a year and only the universe knows what lies ahead of me. I know it’s going to be great and I knew it in that moment on the plane. That’s why I smiled.
There’s a song on Moby’s 18 & 18 B-Sides called “I’m Not Worried At All” which I just recently discovered courtesy of Brandon Maxwell’s S/S 2018 collection featuring Jourdan Dunn. When I saw the campaign clips on Instagram, I was touched by the story Jourdan shares and by the song. As I listened to the full track, I found myself shedding a tear.
Don’t get me wrong, I have worries…but I’m not worried at all. Life is good even when it’s full of shit. These photos, captured in Höfn, Kálfafell, Vík í Mýrdal, Brimilsvellir and Reykjavik, are proof of that.
If you like what you see, make sure to check out my Iceland travel vlog (and feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel, too!).