My last meal out in Iceland was a mouth-watering treat at Sjávargrillið. It started with bread and fluffy butter that used a volcanic rock as a serving dish. Perfectly plated, flaky white fish was the main course. Dessert consisted of a warm, gooey brownie with the most delectable not-quite-ice-cream and sorbet on the side. Of course, the water still had that sulfurous taste to it, but I had almost grown used to it enough not to notice.
I headed to the airport early the next day, groggy and tired in ways I couldn't recall being before, except the last time I traveled internationally. Luckily my flights and luggage did not go through the ordeal that was my arrival in Iceland. Minor delays only. Customs coming back into the U.S. was a breeze. I don't think any of the agents even said a single word to me. They just looked at me, looked at my passport, and stamped.
On the flight coming into Minneapolis, when we dropped below the cloud cover during the final phase of our descent, I caught a sunset in the form of a rainbow: a murky russet touching the horizon, going up through a chromatic scale into a pale blue sky still clinging to daylight. The sunset was reflected by the Mississippi below, meandering lazily back and forth on its snakelike journey south, effortlessly conjuring halcyon days. I imagined whitewashed steamboats down there: smoke stacks puffing out expanding alabaster clouds above, flat vermilion-lacquered paddles churning the water below.
Minnesota has always been a land of 10,000 colors for me, over-saturated to my senses. And it is never more so than when returning from a long furlough. It is sometimes a great, grand thing to go adventuring on vacation, but it is always a good thing to come home.