Our house is whistling. It sounds like the wind will yank it up from the foundation and pitch it across the fjord. Someone told me that today the winds reached sixty miles an hour. After our very long winter, I should worry. Isn’t anything possible when it comes to weather in Iceland? But I’ve been here long enough now to know. The weather, like my mood during these days before my 40th birthday, changes on a whim.
One minute, the snow settles. A white blanket of wonderful winter covers the world. The house is quiet, nearly silent beneath the new snow. I look up to see my two beautiful and intelligent children at play. They are kind, loving, sweet. M tells B something in Icelandic that I will never understand. Together they start to sing Icelandic children’s songs and they know all the words. This is my Idyllic International Life.
Oh, but then in a moment, snow turns to rain, a torrential downpour. Water pools in our driveway and seeps into the streets—highways and grand avenues flood with puddles. All the snow melts and water cascades across the road as cars careen through the deluge. My email inbox glows with another invite for a 40th birthday of a dear old friend. But the party is across the globe. Of course, I can’t go. But shouldn’t I be there to mark this milestone, to commiserate and celebrate? These are my dearest, the friends I’ve known and loved for decades. The thought is a sucker punch: we live too far away. Homesick hurts the hardest at times like these.
Clouds hover low and grey. Rain and snow clears and fog rolls in from the sea. Everything is grey and dark. Except in my office, where yellow light glows from the small antique lamp and the calls come in from New York and San Francisco about Ever After Studio, our children’s book production company. I sign the contract for a children’s book I’ve authored and I send another round of emails. It looks like we’ll get book deals for all four of book series. And the novel is in great shape thanks to the conferences and networking and the online class with the editor from Random House. I feel myself beam and I want to believe that this, maybe really, this is my year. . .
Then the temperatures plummet. The sky, bitter and crisp, fills with blues, cloudless and clear except for that old gorgeous sun with her brilliant face. I’ve missed her so. My mind somersaults. What else have I missed? I turn 40 in only a handful of days, I better figure it out. Is my career really where it should be? What if all the deals fall through? What about all the other things I am supposed to achieve in my life—helping communities and individuals, promoting literacy, writing (and publishing) the great American novel and numerous children’s books. Is this, a global nomadic existence, the right one for me? Thoughts tumbling, I head over to my spinning class where my vicious Viking instructor kicks my ass. I emerge a sweaty mess but I feel totally on the top of my game. Fit and lighter, I know that because of all this hard work I’m thinner than I have been in almost a decade. And when I step back into the daylight and stand under the sun, even under the schizophrenic springtime sun, I think I can do it. I’m almost ready to face you, 40.