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Aurora

Photograph of purple chrysanthemum-style fireworkes in a dark night sky, figures in silhouette clustered at the base of the image

Fireworks, sparklers, and sunsets make me think of youth. Of mountains filled with dancing bodies, the smell of burning firewood, and animated voices overpowering the sound of the wind. In the dark night on New Year’s Eve in Reykjavík, Iceland, bonfires lit the way for elves and hidden people. For us, five college students from New York City, gusts of wind pulled at our bodies, as if urging us to throw ourselves into the flickering fire.

As the bonfire raged mere inches from our faces, a volcano flickered to life. Life that had been still exploded in a rage of fiery gore. The moon darkened, land sunk into sea. Heat prickled our faces, and bright stars scattered down from the sky. Like Njál’s burning, midnight set the world ablaze. Flames flew high and sometimes burned low. Down on the ground, or almost as if from within the ground, a song was sung: “Now our minds are full of fire.

We wandered into the city, only to be welcomed by more fire above. Sparks of light danced across the sky, encircled our heads, soaked us in warmth and festivity. Our taxi driver dropped us off at the bottom of a road leading up to Hallgrímskirkja Church. We made a run for the center of the crowd, our excitement trailing after us in the footsteps, fears, and frustrations we left behind. We loosened our scarves, threw up our arms, laughed as the land of fire and ice illuminated our faces.

There was no beginning and no end. Only the fiery sky, the continuous eruption. We huddled together, perched in the middle of the chapel square as we clapped and cheered and celebrated. Fireworks came from every direction, bursting into sparks above our heads. Light fell, prompting us to pull up our hoods before remembering that it wasn’t rain but rather pieces of dust in our hair. The sky opened its arms and welcomed us that night, five college students with idealistic resolutions, our hopes and ambitions unscathed. A group of dreamers clustered together under lights and stars. A fleeting moment of youth. We flung our past into the fire and bid farewell to the old year.

Figures in silhouette before a large fire. Nightime cityscape in distance