Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Deceptively Big Country

But it looks gigantic on maps.

We were eight and we decided that we'd get married someday. Donna, the coolest girl in second grade, spun the globe, grinned maniacally, and closed her eyes. "Wherever I point to, that's where we go on our honeymoon." And she stabbed her finger out at the globe, hitting Greenland.

"Greenland," she said. "Green Land. That's where we're going."

And I nodded, happy to be going someplace like that with her. And the country was gigantic on the globe (and on all the maps I'd ever seen), so it had to be important.

A week later, Donna found me and glumly announced that Greenland was full of ice. She blamed me for this -- even though she's the one who picked Greenland on the spinning globe. "It's false advertising," she groaned. (And, in a way, it was, Vikings gave the country a deceptive name to encourage people to move there -- think Mad Men with horn helmets.)

I started reading about Greenland (but couldn't find much in a town with a small library in the days before the internet) and got excited about a country that's more than 80% ice. A country of about 55,000 people whose economy largely revolves around fishing and whose towns (mostly on fjords) are not connected to each other by roads.

After another week, I found Donna and wanted to tell her everything I'd learned abuot this amazing place we were going (at some undefined point in the future). Before I could say more than "fish," she told me that she'd written to the Pope to get her promise to go to Greenland with me on our honeymoon annulled. When I told her that's not what annulment meant, she told me I'd never understand.

That was the last time she spoke to me.

And for many years, I didn't think about Greenland. Until I finally went to Iceland (which, ironically, is quite green), saw how beautiful it was, and started dreaming of the amazing vistas of Greenland and the bizarre calculations of Mercator projection, that make it look bigger than all of Africa.

When I was in Iceland, I heard about Angu, the biggest rock star in Greenland, where he's often described as Greenland's U2. (Link for Gmail subscribers.)

Angu's first album sold 5,000 copies just in Greenland. Which is the equivalent of selling 33 million copies in the U.S. Add in airplay on MTV (in countries where MTV still plays music) and before long Greenland had its first genuine rock star.

(Link for Gmail subscribers.)

Last I heard, Donna was living in Arizona, on her second marriage (or maybe her third). I hear she likes "mallwalking." A mutual friend told me she clearly peaked in second grade (or maybe third). And I'm pretty sure she never heard Angu... or went to Greenland.

Her loss.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Grinned maniacally?!

So even at eight, it was the crazy chicks? :)