I was never truly bored in Finland. All through my computer-less months, when I was home by myself after Finnish class while friends were still at work, despite multiple re-reads of the English books on hand (luckily I can read Harry Potter endlessly), my oft solitary afternoons weren’t dull. I lived in Helsinki, see, and it’s too pleasant for boredom.
Behind our apartment sprawled Kaivopuisto. Puisto, for those who don’t speak Finnish, means park. I needed only meander a few serene blocks away, and I would be striding by the gulf under the bluest skies.
So, if I had nothing pressing to attend to—which was often—on went my shoes (never worn in the home) and in went my headphones (Ismo Alanko already queued up) and I was out the door for a wander.
Kaivopuisto hides its oddities in plain sight. Giant chess pieces, a sea monster, a frog, and a tree with a head all somehow inconspicuously marked my path. To me, this is Finnish: put-together, bright, clean, but also a bit quirky, slightly rough. I strolled along to the lyrics “why do you shit on my head, like a pigeon?” This is what I love, these jutting peculiarities, perhaps because for them I harbor a strong sense of affinity.
I would walk. At once I would feel so composed and content. Look at the beautiful everything!
I would walk. My chest weighted down with longing. I wish this were mine. I wish I irrevocably, completely belonged. I wish I could stay, my heart dropping.
I’ve run to Finland many times. I may have been a little American ball of unbridled emotion, slinging myself around the country. I may not have flung off enough. But always, Kaivopuisto embraced me. I would walk calmly.
Not a day goes by that I don’t miss Finland, Helsinki, our apartment, and what lies behind. And now, achingly, behind me.