Living in downtown Reykjavík has its drawbacks. A lot of people who live in the area never get tired of complaining about the noise from drunkards on weekends and the constant shuffling of Airbnb patrons in the early hours, on all days of the week.
I have lived smack dab in the middle of the “problem area” for extended periods but recently moved to a quiet residential neighbourhood. And let me tell you, I miss it. There is something to be said for being in the midst of a whirlpool of life and activity rather than a tranquil offshoot from it. But to be honest, the best thing about living downtown is the microstories.
If you live on the ground floor and keep your window open it transforms your daily existence at home into a series of dramatic and comic vignettes from the lives of strangers. A lot of these tend to be foreign voices, from all over the globe, expressing a variety of sentiments that only leave you wanting more as you catch a sentence or two of context-free conversation.
“I’m pretty sure that’s illegal here, you’re fucking crazy man!” an American male in his twenties blurted into my life as I stood by the kitchen counter one evening. “Chill out, dude!” another voice implored him. And they were gone as suddenly as they arrived.
Another night someone called out in Icelandic: “This cocaine is fucking awesome! Do you think anyone can see us doing it here?” – no, you’re good, just keep shouting about it in the street. And it’s just after midnight on a Tuesday, so, congratulations on those life choices.
But it’s not all about nefarious or illegal activity, a lot of it is just people having heated arguments about love and spilled beer. Often there is crying. You get a lot of lost tourists as well, including an American couple in their fifties who stopped to admire the house I was in and remarked: “In America we consider aluminum siding tacky but here they have it on all the nicest houses! Take a picture of me with this one!”
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