I'm not having an amazing time and I'm just as miserable as you are.
I was originally supposed to blog about dating foreigners but I felt this was more necessary (the foreigner one is still coming).
Last week I decided to go see some standup in downtown Reykjavik. I was going alone so I needed to take a bus. I did the responsible thing, checked online to see when the next bus would come and how much it would cost. I also checked to see how it is possible to pay for said bus. Nothing on the website stated that the busses were cash only so I grabbed my card and headed out the door. When the bus arrived I confidently asked the question, “Talaðu ensku?” to the bus driver. This is a sentence that is almost void and unnecessary in Iceland. If you ask it you will almost always be met with, “yes of course I do,” the subtext being, "I also speak four other languages and my comprehension of English is probably better than yours will ever be." None the less I always ask because I think it’s a way of showing that I’m trying to learn the language. The bus driver of course spoke English so I asked him if the bus was going where I needed it to. He said yes, slammed shut the door and began driving (Icelanders don’t like the small amount of public transport they have to run late. As we moved down a road I can’t even begin to pronounce, I asked him how I pay the fare.
“Cash only,” he said.
“Well I’ll have to get off because I only have card.”
“You don’t have any cash.”
“No I don’t, I haven’t needed it once in the week and a half I have been here.” (Seriously you can pay for a tin of tuna on card here, there’s no minimum amount to spend anywhere.
He was almost enraged, “It’s 400 kroner and must be exact cash!”
He then proceded to lecture me on how I was now effectively steeling and that I would have to sit in my seat where he could see me so that he could make sure I got off the bus at the main depot where I could pay for the trip I had allegedly stolen.
I sat in my seat quietly typing away witty stories to facebook while I waited. After about 15 minutes we reached the depot and he signalled to me that this was where I was to pay penance for my crime.
Before I got off the bus, I stopped to tell him that there was nothing on the website about the payment system on the bus. I apologised for not having cash on me but I couldn’t help but say one last thing.
“I felt that the way you were to me was quite aggressive and mean and I would like to know just who do you think you are helping in this situation?”
His face changed and after a moment’s silence he said, “I will take you to your stop, you don’t have to pay but remember for next time it’s 400 kroner and you have to have exact money.”
I was willing to pay, but I took this as an apology.
When I arrived at my stop I immediately found the venue. I went inside, made a b-line for the toilets, locked myself in a stall and cried. I know right, not what you expected. I cried. I cried because I had a moment like I have almost everyday, sometimes multiple times a day. A moment where I remember that I’m still just as miserable as I was in Melbourne. I’m on the otherside of the world but I’m still in one of the deepest depressions I’ve ever been in through my entire life.
The reason I’m writing about this is because I would like to highlight something. All anyone knows about that bus trip till now is that I got sassy with a driver and put him in his place. Nobody knows that the second he got angry at me I wanted to cower in a corner, or jump on the next plane back to Australia. Nobody knows that I spent the next hour crying in a toilet homesick for a home and a life I no longer have that I can’t return to because it doesn’t exist anymore. Nobody knows that I then drank too much and stoped at one of Iceland’s many 10/11 (like 7/11) stores on the way home to binge eat. Nobody has any idea that I cried myself to sleep and that I still do it almost every night. Why doesn’t anyone know? Because I don’t want them to.
We live in a world where it is now incredibly easy to create just about any kind of online persona with a few carefully angled selfies and a joke or two. Online I’m a comedian and cabaret performer who is conquering Iceland one status at a time. I’m doing lots; I’m travelling, I’m learning the language, I’ve got projects happening, I’ve made lots of friends, I may even have had some flings (who knows – not telling here….yet). But that’s all what I want people to see. Yes I’m doing all of those things but I’m still just as bitter, miserable and clinically depressed as I was in Melbourne.
When I left Australia, I was very aware that changing my surroundings wouldn’t solve my problems and in fact would make them worse for a bit. It’s my journey and I will get through it (so nobody needs to be hopping on a plane) but I choose not to make those problems anybody else’s because that’s not how I like to do things. I like to make people laugh even when I am utterly miserable and I wouldn’t want to stop because of it. If I did that’s when you should be concerned.
The reason I chose to write about this, wasn’t because I want sympathy. It’s because just today a really great friend from Australia sent me a facebook message. That message said, “Are you actually doing as well as it looks?”
I answered honestly. I talked about it all. I know I’m going to be ok and I don’t really need help it’s all stuff I just have to work on. This conversation left me thinking. Imagine if I really wasn’t in a positions where I felt I could get through. Imagine if I was at risk and because of the persona I had created, nobody ever asked me if I was ok.
This was the first person to ask that question of me since I left Australia 6 weeks ago. The point I wish to make here is that now more than ever, we should be looking out for each other. We can now feel like we know everything about someone but actually know nothing of what is lying beneath the cat memes and pictures of Donald Trump as a steaming turd.
I get told all the time that moving to Iceland is so brave. That leaving Australia behind with nothing more than a backpack after a 9 year relationship came to an end is heroic. It’s not either of those things. I’m not brave or heroic, I’m just not stupid. I left because I needed to in order to heal. I’m actually not having the time of my life yet. I’m terrified, anxious and have never felt so bone crushingly alone, but I’m a strong independent black woman who don’t need no man (or at least I tell myself that every day), and I can handle it. My life is no better than yours, just like yours is no better than mine.
So I encourage you to take the time to ask someone if they’re ok and then actually listen. You might be surprised that there is a lot more going on then some awesome travel pics.