In the corner of a tiny, grey elevator stood an old man who half-smiled like he had something to hide. He was holding a tote bag tightly. The bag was printed with the words, “All this will end well.” And I wondered if I was hallucinating, because the bag seemed to be reading my mind.
Waiting for Russia’s “military surprise” like a sitting duck, these were exactly the words I needed to see printed anywhere and everywhere. I might need to order a t-shirt with this print, possibly in mirror writing, so I could read it myself while wearing it.
It’s a crazy world right now and it’s hard to see a happy ending to all this. If I suddenly disappeared from this blog, the most probable option is no longer that I started an exciting phase of life fulfilling my dream of moving permanently to a tropical island with my kids.
But I wouldn’t hold it against you if that’s what you preferred to think. (Maybe the island has no wifi? She’ll be back.)
It’s hard not to think about the state of reality. You can only close your eyes and hum theme songs for so long. This is the local vibe right now: will they invade? When? Some don’t want to talk about it, and some do. The chilly weather seems to be a reflection of the chills running up our spines.
You need to be here to understand it. It doesn’t mean we are being self-centered in Ukraine’s time of need: indeed, we are offering help both as individuals and as a state in as many ways as we can. It just means that the facts of our existence have been shaken.
There’s a Youtube mix that I like to listen to on repeat, where someone deejayed a whole 90’s salsa album I love into 12 minutes. The album itself holds a great deal of nostalgia for me, since I was originally introduced to it by my dance teacher as a teenager. I went to a record store and ordered a copy of it from abroad, which was very exciting back then.
This newer Youtube mix somehow manages to bring the best bits together in an uplifting (but also loyal) way. In my very favourite part, they sing something about “las palabras de Mamá.” Without understanding the entire context, it makes me think of large Latin families and the feminine figures looking out for all the young ones. Listen to Mother’s words, and you’ll stay safe.
It feels like something I need to hear right now.
Most of the music I listen to is in Spanish, so I don’t find it the slightest bit odd that I only understand parts of it. It gives my brain the liberty to interpret the rest as it wishes. So many things in life are a matter of interpretation.
I was actually thinking about the nature of Finns a while ago as I sold some of the kids’ old things on a Facebook flea market. They are very popular over here. And not only the nature of Finns, but the culture of being so very trusting.
A woman I had never met paid me 90€ in advance for our used double stroller, without ever having seen more than an iPhone photo. And I didn’t even ask for advance payment!
She and her kid travelled 3 hours by train to retrieve it, arrived at the agreed-upon time, picked it up, and left for their long journey back. Her sincerity, however, left me feeling nervous in case she felt disappointed afterwards, even though I had duly noted in my ad that the stroller was no longer in perfect condition.
The whole transaction amazed me, starting from the fact that someone even bought a used stroller on social media for such an amount without any kind of bargaining. I had been expecting to have to lower the price.
For all she knew, I could have been a troll. Maybe there was no stroller? What if I didn’t show up?
This encounter sums up Finns so well. Trusting, sincere, forthright.
It might not be the combination of traits that signals survival in this cruel world right now. But it offers me comfort.
On a brighter note, I’m currently reading A Three Dog Problem by S.J. Bennett, which delightfully features the Queen of England as the murder-mystery-solving protagonist. I’m loving it so far! And I just watched The Space Between Us on Netflix, a movie for which I had no expectations. I thought it was cute, lovely, and sad, and completely worth watching.
The photos in this post are from my favourite building in Helsinki, which now houses the Amos Rex Museum.
Day by day, that’s the answer. Stay safe!