When I was 15 (2001), I met this half-Japanese half-English boy that was two years older, vegan, tall/stick-skinny… basically the prototype “hipster emo kid” (before the term was even coined). His name was Aki, and at the time, he was so completely different from anyone I knew or had previously met that I was incredibly intrigued by him (who knows, maybe I had a crush, I had a crush on everybody back then).
Aki was into all sorts of alternative-lifestyle things. He convinced me to try veganism for an entire 2 months (spent eating nearly nothing else but bread- fyi, not actually vegan, smart kid I was- and tofu), told me strange dreams he had about his “past lives” (I actually still believe him on this one), regularly complained about the un-eco-consciousness of the people in the area he lived (Texas) and would regularly show me the bruises he got from kendo practice. He regularly practiced zazen.
On afterthought, when you find a 17 year old kid that practices zazen now, you think he was trying to be a gimmicky hipsterkid. But back then it was novel, and he certainly wasn’t trying to impress anyone. He got bullied regularly.
Heh :) I really thought he was the coolest guy ever. We were good friends, for a bit.
One of the most significant things he ever gave to me was Sigur Ros. I don’t listen to the band often anymore, but I remember the first time he made me listen to “Von” (Hope), “Mistur” (Mist), and “Dogun” (Dawn). At first everything he sent me sounded.. different. The music they created was eerie and ethereal but it made me feel… hmm. It’s a hard moment to describe.
He told me to play the songs at night, with the window open, the lights off and my eyes closed. And he asked me to tell him what I had seen the next day.
I saw the most beautiful dream world, filled with ice, beautiful skies, clean water, lush green, mist.. something I didn’t believe to exist. I remember opening my eyes and feeling tears drip down my face, looking at nothing more than the dull view of my neighbor’s house. When I told him what I saw, he laughed and told me to Yahoo search (no Google back then) for images of Iceland. What I had imagined was nearly identical to what I found.
I didn’t know they were an experimental Icelandic rock band until he told me, afterwards.
Something about the way they created music invoked the very same images I posted above, in my mind. I never forgot that. So, at age 15, I vowed that one day I would visit Iceland and see everything with my own eyes. Yet to happen. Will one day.
In 2005, when I was with my (ex)boyfriend at the time (very stereotypical blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Californian surfer boy), I was still into indie rock (strange 3 year phase of life) and somehow bought a copy of Takk. I heard Saeglopur - the song I posted earlier that was sampled in a recent hip hop track, the original is still beautiful to me- when we were driving up Highway 17 towards Santa Cruz in torrid winter rain at night. When we got to the beach, the sight was terrible and breathtaking: stormy and dark, waves thrashing against the rocky NorCal cliffs and spraying seafoam high into the air; bits of moonlight making the beach glow silver.
Saeglopur was on repeat constantly, and as we sat in the car, I remembered Aki for the first time in years, as I am doing now (this time, triggered by a hip hop track, who would have thought), and wondered what became of him and if he ever made it to Iceland first. I still dream of going, one day I will.
Small, but strangely significant memories remain with you for life.
I’ve met and forgotten many people, but Aki, I will probably never forget.
(Images from http://icelandaurora.com/)