I went to a geothermal swimming pool here in Reykjavik. Before entering the pool people must shower nude in the changing-rooms. There were sixteen-year-old girls naked and giggling around me. Their fine wet hair was slick down their backs, and their small breasts perky. They were beautiful. I wanted to kiss them. Some of them had little freckles across their nose. I desperately wanted to be sixteen again. It is a curious time, full of unnecessary self-consciousness. All these girls were pure untouched women. They were frightening. Like a herd of Gazelle, bounding in joy to graze with timidity, their soft skin only alive to be pierced and bruised. I saw the pulse rapidly beating in one of the girl’s necks. I wanted to bite her. I wanted to be sixteen and unspoiled or Simone from Story of the Eye, so I could befriend the girls and kiss them, and secretly, in someone’s garden, piss on their hands.
Later I saw a crane gently dangling a concrete slab above a new building. Across the road the sea was still and the clouds, heavy with rain, were reflected in the cold water. I was straddling my bike and sucking on my tongue; kissing myself by an unfamiliar slab of sea. Iceland is a windy place. When I trace the shape of Iceland on my map I am reminded of a little lost fish. A dried Cod that has been smacked against lava rocks by naughty children, and left there to freeze in the wind. Fishermen scoop flapping loads of fish out from the sea here. ‘Older Icelanders don’t eat Cod’ is what an Icelandic friend told me. I like it here very much. The every day struggle against the howling wind delights me. Graham Parker wrote a song called ‘Howlin’ Wind’. I never heard it - the wind howling as it does here.
The first time I heard it I thought a siren was calling outside or a girl was screaming. That is the sound of trouble, the wind, I know it because my Mother was a teacher and she hated windy days. Kids turn wild on windy days. Their concentration is lost, and fights break out. Girls’ skirts are forced up. Boys break sticks in half. Kids kill each other in their games on windy days. All the while teachers struggle, shaking their hair out of their faces, calling such and such to come back and so and so to settle down.
And so I was watching this building being built and wondering where Iceland’s underbelly may be forming, if at all. While I was at the geothermal swimming pool I had been irritated by a large old female employee, who demanded that I peel my bathing suit off while she watched me shower. It seemed as though she thought I was unhygienic. Later a friend informed me that the pools aren’t pumped with regular amounts of chemicals and so, it is imperative that people wash thoroughly. She pointed her chubby finger at me and said, ‘Undress’.
There was something clinical about that old lady and her job. I watched her as she sat behind a full-length glass window on a little chair, controlling the hygiene level of other women by sight. I thought of the actions people make when they fuck, and the chemicals men excrete when they orgasm: amino acids, citrate, enzymes, flavins, fructose, phosphorylcholine, prostaglandin, acid phosphatase, citric acid, fibrinolysin, prostate specific antigen, proteolytic enzymes, zinc, chromatin, galactose, mucus, sialic acid...
Later, while swimming, I was haunted by my imaginings of the perverse things some people do in swimming pools, and the lack of care some human beings have for others.
I decided that I no longer enjoy public swimming locations.
I rode my bike down town and saw an Einar Jónsson sculpture of Hannes Þórður Pétursson Hafstein, say it quickly. Try saying his name at all. I rode down dead ends to nothing spaces; those empty pockets between buildings where garbage bins are kept, and the howling wind pushed me onto the ground. The garbage bins were shifting and making this awful bending sound. My hands were blue and stinging from the cold and I kept hoping that someone might appear and tie me to the nearby sculpture of a suited man, holding a brief case, with an incomplete head.