When I was fifteen to twenty-five years old, I did, among other things, the following:
I was arrested, along with my childhood friend Jon Adalsteinn, for stealing a potted plant in the town of Selfoss at a time where my stepmother was running for office in the constituency.
I went to an afterparty at a hotel with a handball team, which in my recollection was German, and splashed a glass of water on a sleeping handball player with a skin-treatment mask on his face, so I could ask him into which room my girlfriend had disappeared. She ended up breaking one of the beds with her new German athlete friend.
I hooked up with a stranger I met at a London nightclub, during the AIDS epidemic, and bragged to my friends the following day that he had been, I think I recall, a member of the Manchester United training squad or youth team. My friend Aggi, who lived in London at the time, yelled at me for having given this man his phone-number – this was before cellphones – and declared that he could have murdered me. Aggi himself was eighteen years old and on the run from a former drama teacher of his, an American woman in her forties who had followed him to London from the US because she thought she was in love with him. I think I remember this woman being with us when Aggi scolded me, and also my friend Binna who had worked in a fish factory all of her teenage summers. When the aforementioned man showed up to see me again, Binna took it upon herself to give a longwinded pitch for various Icelandic seafood corporations so that the man disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. Had social media existed back then, I most certainly would have posted a photo of him and tagged the training squad or youth team.
I offended one of the members of the band Whitesnake and was kicked out of a party thrown in their honor. I would probably have posted an embarrassing photo of him, if I’d have had the chance.
I was rude to local rock-star Andrea Gylfadottir backstage at a concert in Hunaver, a venue in the north of Iceland. I had gone there to babysit but I lost the child and went up on stage mid-show to revel in the glory of the spotlight.
I slept with guys my friends liked because they had slept with guys I liked. I don‘t know which was the chicken and which the egg.
I threw an after-party at my stepmother’s campaign office, brought everyone from 22, a bar in downtown Reykjavik, back there, and gave them beer at the expense of the then brand-new Social Democratic party.
My driver‘s license was revoked in the small town of Flateyri in the West-Fjords of Iceland and when I showed up to the police station to deal with it, they discovered I didn‘t have a license for my dog, who growled at the police officers.
They got me to join a youth committee for the Left Party and entrusted me with three thick binders bearing all their sensitive materials. I took the binders with me to Flateyri, didn‘t feel like reading them but let Einar Oddur Kristjansson, my friend‘s father and a leader in the right-wing Independence Party, have fun with them over a glass of whiskey. I probably traded them for a bit of the whiskey to take with me to a party in town.
I constantly took my friends to all-night parties at my 80 year old grandmother‘s house, a place full of fancy alcohol and a swimming pool in the backyard to goof around in naked. Grandmother just turned up the volume on her public radio channel and fed my friends bacon, freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee the next morning. Given the opportunity, I would doubtlessly have posted photos of my friends in their birthday suits.
I showed up drunk for my shift at the Mal og Menning bookstore downtown Reykjavik, and fell down a flight of stairs.
I almost had an orgy with my friend and my older female cousin but chickened out at the last minute and poured milk over them to stop them, like you do to the dogs in the countryside. Too bad I didn‘t have a smartphone back then.
I got married one morning spontaneously to get money for coffee and cigarettes because people are so nice and accommodating to newlyweds.
I wrote an endless string of bad checks at Nellies and Kaffibarinn in downtown Reykjavik.
I ran naked into a bank of snow outside a party and also down Skolavordustigur in downtown Reykjavik. I’m glad nobody had a smartphone.
I attacked a sizable man at the bar Gaukur a Stong because he was pushing his girlfriend around. The man chased me out into the street, furious. Thankfully he didn’t catch me, otherwise I wouldn’t be here to tell the tale.
I poured vodka into the eyes of another man.
Me and my friend Binna climbed the icy-sheet on the side of the mountain Kinnin, located in the heath between Flateyri and Isafjordur, to get to the big evening bash in Isafjordur in celebration of Fisherman’s Day. There had been no cars from which to hitch rides. Thankfully we were too drunk to plummet. Otherwise neither would be here today.
I hitch-hiked between vast areas in the Icelandic country-side to get to a good party.
I shaved off all the hair on one side of my head but kept it long on the other. I did this at the video store in Selfoss and then sat down on a third floor window-sill, feet dangling out, so everyone could see my great new hairstyle. This did not go down well as my stepmother was, again, running for office. Thankfully for her and everyone else, no one had a smartphone.
I pretended to go to work in the morning in the fish factory in the small town of Stokkseyri, but instead I just went and laid down by the seaside and fell asleep.
I drove around a small town in Cuba in a bus that two guys had taken over. On the same trip I frequently misused the credit card of my friend Lisa Kristjansdottir, now a senior advisor to the Icelandic government, who was traveling with me. The following morning I got diarrhea at the Hotel Plaza in Havana and had an accident on the floor in front of some Cuban cabinet members. Lisa was still with me. I think she stopped using credit cards after this trip, they were a novelty at the time which no one really knew how to use properly yet.
I traveled to Madrid on my own and hung out with an illegal immigrant, a guy who mostly wanted to smoke weed and watch rich people go in and out of some rich-people hotel. In between I hooked up with American guys and imagined I was writing a novel. By the way, I also crashed with some Icelandic stewardesses and eventually took over one of their apartments as I had forgotten to get myself a place to stay when I flew over there on an open ticket.
I did all of this and so much more at that age. Some people did much more intelligent things. But this does not define me today, even though it gives me a laugh every now and then. I don’t know what would have happened if the internet in its current form had existed back then. Perhaps I would have lost my reputation for good because of some of these things, or for other things I don’t even remember. I didn’t have the same good judgement I have today, although at times it could be better, even now. I was young. I was stupid. Sometimes amusingly stupid, sometimes dangerously. And this is why I think to myself now, when I see young Icelandic women shamed in the British media for a youthful slip of judgement: This could have been me!Translated by Birna Anna Bjornsdottir.
Audur Jonsdottir is an Icelandic novelist who has published twelve books that have been translated to eight languages. Her next novel, 107 Reykjavik, co-written by Birna Anna Bjornsdottir, will be published in Reykjavik in October.