What I said back then:
It didn’t exist…
What I think now:
Back to that late summer of 2009. I have no idea how this album insinuated itself into my consciousness; it was just suddenly there. It is possibly the last physical CD I ever bought, presumably because the old car didn’t have a simple way for me to connect my mp3 player of choice, and I’d really like to be able to hear this in the car. I also have a suspicion that I didn’t buy it here in Prince George – most likely during one of the trips back to Scotland that year. For a memory, this one’s looking a little vague…
But here’s what I do remember. I went to Scotland three times that summer; once with the family, as already noted. I remember many things about that visit, but they’re transient things; impressions – the cottage we stayed in, the arguments with the car hire company, the Falkirk Wheel – but it’s not etched into my memory like the others.
The second trip was my insurance policy. Thanks to the Canadian weather, we had some unused BA flight tickets. We decided that I should use them to go and say goodbye properly; I knew that if I was back for a third time, I’d run the risk of being too late, and however much you don’t want to face the reality of what’s happening, you definitely don’t want to add regret to the emotions.
I listened to ‘Takk..’ a lot on that trip – on the mp3 player, late at night, when a combination of jetlag and stress meant I wasn’t sleeping; on both flights; in the rental car, where I had somehow rigged up a system to let me listen to the music I had brought, but which could only store a handful of tracks, for some reason –I probably wasn’t quite giving the situation my full attention, but I do remember having to copy things onto a USB stick, and that wasn’t quite the success it might have been…
So here are these glorious, sweeping songs of – well, who knows what: I certainly don’t have enough Icelandic to be able to make sense of them – and a period of my life where I am emotionally heightened; it’s a wonder I can still listen to any of it.
Like I say, I listen to it from time to time, and when I do, I remember.
I remember growing up, long before I ever heard it, but it reminds me of childhood, and of my safe, loving upbringing; it reminds me to be grateful for all I have and have had.
I remember texting my mother from the Skytrain, on my way back to see her that August – telling her how beautiful Vancouver looked, and that I’d be at her bedside this time tomorrow.
I remember walking the streets of my childhood in the rain, thinking about anything and everything, trying to digest what was happening.
I remember lying awake in the middle of the night, wishing for the limbo to be over, and feeling guilty about that.
I remember doing the practical things the day after she died; writing an obituary, talking to the minister, and hearing myself say “I think someone should give a eulogy, and I think it should be me”.
I remember standing in the church, feeling glad that I was here, and hoping that everyone could hear me; my actor’s training having deserted me as I read those words.
I remember sharp, crisp memories, inconsequential things which meant a lot to me at the time.
And, most of all, I remember my mum.