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Icelanders

Dear Derrick,

How did you find Icelanders to be?  I know you spent time in Reykjavik, and likely got a much better taste of the city and the people than I did.  I only got into the city once for an afternoon.

My first exposure to the people was a unique new friend on the airplane who talked adamantly at the pace of an eager teacher with too much brain for the present moment about the land and the language and the history and the people.  We covered a great deal in our flight from Hamburg.

My main taste was the family that Hope and I stayed with – friends of hers from school.  They were a kind, fastidious, welcoming group with an unexpected amount of Midwestern-ness I found surprisingly familiar.  We had many family meals crammed with helping hands around the kitchen table in the farmhouse where we stayed in the Western Fjords.  They were active – organizing each day with excursions to give us visitors a good sampling.  The father, Ari, had a constant, warm grin.  Sigrún, the mother, was an avid and guiding host, who accepted help but only if you beat her to the dishes.  What the folks I encountered – from the airplane to the family to the owners of the many coffee shops we stopped at – seemed to share was a humble, responsible, working pace and quiet, small town life acceptance, replete with all of them being quite progressive, trilingual (or quad-lingual), and holding a fully integrated knowledge of the country’s recent and ancient history and place in the world, from their gaining of independence during one world war then the next, to the first democratic meeting of the nation in 1000AD, to the forming of the rocks themselves tens, thousands or millions of years ago.  So they were a dynamic but steady folk from my perspective.

The main reason I noted this, is that the setting in which they lived was so dramatic, the rocks and moss and sky and cliffs and weather so extreme and produced so much feeling in me, it all stood in fantastic contrast.

I’m curious how you found it.

Thanks for the support and the inspiration, through example, of being out in the world.

Let’s do more of that.

Tim

Tokens

Dear Ed,

I continue to practice the lesson that tokens are mostly useless – that trying to keep a thing or purchase a thing to hold a memory only falls short, like the so many attempted pictures of the baffling mountains and the reach of the landscape and the sky grappling them and the infinity of the ocean.  There are only memories, logistical and sensory – the gladness of being somewhere at all so far from home, the route we drove on the map including the magnificent getting lost part, the wonder if you are living the right way there and in the greater scheme and those two together, the hope you are comprehending the bigness, the debate of activity versus pausing, the awe unavoidable, the sitting, the grinning, the beaming of the heart, the exhaustion of the heart from the energetic upkeep of being away.

Of all the things that are impossible to take from a place to encompass the place, that might serve as an even mildly sufficient token, I was surprised with a fistful of true comfort when I put my sweatshirt back on by the small pile of skipping stones in my pocket – the ones I was quite sure I would throw into the ocean and sat on the floor of the car all week.  So I guess I have those.  Their glimmer will fade in the years, the way they shine the beauty and openness of this trip through their specificity, but they will shine to my core at least for a while with their clattering together.

 

Thank you for helping these memories happen.  They’re made of wind and silence.

 

Sincerely,

 

Tim

Landing

Hey Evan,

Last night, as the plane lowered back over the deciduous forests of the US, I fully expected to see mountains of lava rock on the horizon and was sure there would be light until midnight still.  I was only in Iceland for a week, but it sunk in quite far.  Being there with Hope helped.  It helped the awe and the story and the celebration and the processing to share it with such a friend.  There was so much space and so much vast quiet, but we were reeling much of the time, gape-mouthed with disbelief at the landscape and the fact that we were there.

Thank you for helping me find the thrill of the world.

Tim

Arrival Together

Dear Kristi,

Remember that time we were three in Iceland?  And you had jumped off the diving board straight to Norway and you saw a fjord and read your Grandfather’s name in a journal from the time he had vanished to the sea and was then a fighting soldier for the U.S.  And Hope had put her hands together and gone headlong to Iceland – to sleep and to realize and to sit and to make funny videos and be her independent self at ice cream festivals and geothermal rivers.  And I had jumped after both of you, reemerging in Vienna to wearily take a workshop from a kind but fist-shaking bald man in performance studies and to wander the ornately antique buildings in the city center at night and to smile into the spitting rain.

And we did some catching up about our separate adventures, but after the drive and Hope feeling better and some gin and tonics, we were eventually just talking about other things.  We talked about the vagaries of relationship and love and sex and self, and a little about that show we love so much in New York where the diving board is, and about how beautiful this house is.  And I was so excited to go to sleep in the darkness and wake up to the light and realization that we were by the ocean.  In Iceland.

And today we spoke of being artists generously and humbly accepting the mantle of creativity that is unceasingly flowing, and about how it is also work and any act of creativity is exposing and how scary that is.  And we talked about being a fan of something and about New York vs. residencies in the country and about the necessity of failing and about your theatre company.  And we talked about the blue lagoon and figured out how we will each get there, oddly separately.  And we talked about doing this again in another country someday.

And now we all type a bit with our illuminated apple icons facing into the table and the ocean outside and everything in the house quiet and full of welcome.  A gift to be all together.  I was so thirsty for familiar faces and we have been fostered perfectly here, now each with a mug of tea.

See you again soon my friend,

Tim

The Other Side of This Very Large Hill

Dear Clay,

It is done.

I have, in specific parts of my lungs and muscles, been holding my breath for a few months.  The DV8 workshop this week was exactly what I planned and an excellent experience for that, and I will write more about that.  And it was a very immediate epilogue to Sleep No More and the farewell of that massive chapter.

And now it is finished.  I can breath lower into my lungs from all of it.  And let my head hang low and my chest sink down and my knees loosen and my stomach relax.  And I can just walk and walk around the city center after missing a show I had a ticket to, and follow only whim in the chilly night, and it is a quiet whim because there is nothing else left.

There is much, much staring to be done.

Love and sitting,

Tim

Lost By Bike

Brad,

 

Yesterday,

I found a tower without its castle,

In a rose garden,

Through the crooked open door

Outside the porcelain museum.

For all the antique pleasantries and trimmings of the city up to it,

The tower emanated the plainest, blackest, silent tone

Like an immoveable thunderhead sitting amidst a summer concert.

It was a gathering place for crows

Who were making the only sound

Beyond its cascading silence

And the pittance of my bike wheels on the gravel road.

 

I found out today, it was just what it appeared to be.

Concrete and steel sealed blackness.

A surviving memorial to terror and loss.

 

 

Tim

Small Worry

Dear Heather,

I looked up sanguine today as I was about to use it in some writing.  There was something somehow saccharine about the definition.  That, I guess, is what I’m worried about being.  Worried about being only that.  Perhaps that’s what I am.  To those who know me a bit more, I hope I’m a bit more.

My optimism can break rocks sometimes.

All the best,

Tim

Cottage

Hope,

I’ve been smelling the cottage since April – constantly in the moisture in the air of spring, in the dust in my apartment building stairwell, in cleaning solution on the train, in fabric at work. And now the wind is blowing through the trees and a mosquito buzzes and there’s cool air blowing onto my bed in Vienna, just like in Michigan.

I should probably get there in September. Maybe Iceland will be a little bit like it? Maybe only in the sense that there will be waves and distance and reading next to others. Someday you will join me there. We will climb a sand dune.

See you in days,

Tim

In Austria They Speak German

Dear Emma,

The two times I stepped out of the grocery store today, this morning and then this evening, I was warmer than when I went in. This could be on account of the shop being very well air conditioned, however, my first guess was that it was from the rush I got from being that guy who doesn’t speak a word of German, including “I’m sorry I don’t speak a word of German”, and embarrassing myself and kind of everyone within listening distance of the situation. The two times, and plenty of others, were short-lived, but noted my cultural failure with a sidewards glance.

Now I’m that jerk American for little bits each day. Shoot. I should probably go ahead and remedy that.

Glad you met my bro!

All the best,

Tim

Tuesday

Dear Mallory,

I let the rain keep me in tonight.

Last night, the rain was also falling in the garden off my room through those funny European windows that just slant open at the top, and woke me up three times. I was pleased and turned over comforted each time.

I could have gone to a show by a famous French choreographer tonight, but as I am planning on seeing shows Friday and Saturday, and the museum next door to the workshop tomorrow evening; and since the day was jam-packed with learning, all starting with my first hip hop class ever taught by a kind, staunch-looking Albanian who was the only one among us group of white males who didn’t look at least partially like a modern dance hippy, I felt ok about grocery shopping and laundry instead.

Today, Lloyd, the director, impatiently and consistently railed about trying to find neutrality then, separately, about showing him “uninhibited” and “totally free” and “quirky” and “like no one was there.” He was charging us, agitatedly, to show him some version of “authenticity”. When I finally realized he was talking about vulnerability and honesty, I thought, “he is taking the wrong approach.” I wrote about it a bit in my journal. It affirmed that I would like to go to clown school as that seems to be what he’s actually going after, and so many are going after, and I’m going after, and he just doesn’t know it. Legitimately, he also pulls off many acts of precision and design through his honest, if dancer-psyche-skewed, fist shaking that I’m not sure could be reached with a bunch of clowns.

Huge hugs and missing Manderlay, especially when Lloyd put on “Is That All There Is?” during one of the exercises today,

Tim