For a newcomer, Reykjavik’s small size and even smaller downtown makes feeling like a local all the much easier. Once you start knowing a few people, you will see them walking down Laugavegur, sitting next to you at a restaurant or working at your favourite store. It really has that small town charm where you feel like saying, “Howdy neighbour!” Except that you will be laughed at.
I remember when I first moved here, the first thing that made me feel like Reykjavik was my home was the constant bumping into the people I knew. I was telling a friend of mine how seeing so many recognisable faces constantly made me feel warm and fuzzy. “Really. Well it’ll get old sooner than you think,” was his reply. He told me he was late for meeting me because while he was walking he kept on seeing people he knew. I said, “Well that’s because you like to be a skateboard-wielding social butterfly. Or it’s a pretty creative excuse for making me stare at the street lamp for thirty minutes.”
That night I went out to Kaffibarinn and bumped into a girl I had met that week. Again I said, “I love these spontaneous gatherings!” This chin-pierced sprite replied, “It isn’t so fun for us.” She began pointed out different people in the bar she knew and how if someone isn’t a close friend you don’t really say hi unless you literally have them face-to-face. And sometimes you don’t know when to say hi or not and you just look at each other and if your gazes meet, you smile.
Now that I have been here longer, I am not irritated yet but I sure as hell know what my friends meant. Running late to the bank, I inevitably walk into a friend. Someone does you wrong and suddenly they are everywhere. I had a photographer take some pictures of a model for a store. She never gave them to me and ignored my e-mails but had the beautiful pictures plastered all over her Myspace. Of course I would run into her again and again and every time she gives me the look of a deer in headlights. The worst part is the X factor. You break up with somebody and you can’t avoid seeing them. I’ve had friends recount stories of pining indoors for months for fear of bumping into their ex and his/her new lover. One friend even left the country. He needed to get fresh air somehow.
Even though it can get irritating, it’s better than living in a big city where you schedule in your friends because you never get to see them. So, howdy neighbour!
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