”With rage I shall burst”, sings a young man – a rising opera star – with dramatic devotion. I can’t help wondering whether he, too, has just moved countries, and now his devices won’t hook into the wall.
Behind the singer there’s an enormous window, birch trees and a kayak gliding silently across the bay. It’s late May and we are in Helsinki. Things are starting up. We feel hopeful and new. It’s a chance for reinvention and first encounters. All this light, our endlessly stretching days!
This move came up quite quickly. But we jumped at it like hungry street cats onto a fishing boat. Helsinki! Finland! Nightless nights! Carelian pie! Digitalised services!
I left my car in Cyprus, packed my kids and cats. Left hubs in charge of the rest. Shed my face mask and started buying garb for my post-pandemic size. It’s time to really, finally crawl out of my cave and meet some people! To travel to Estonia, go to live performances, picnics and gatherings. With Excitement I Shall Burst now to greet officials, consuls, guides, artesans, MP’s and school parents. All kinds of quickly changing circumstances, and other opportunities to appear foolish and commit epic social gaffes.
On my dresser I still have a card from a small farewell lunch in Nicosia. I don’t really read it because I know what it says, but I want it to sit there. Because some days really, really don’t go as hoped or planned.
Some days we are back to invisible ghosts no-one knows, nor cares to. Some days we visit the school and see a young kid sitting alone at a large table, and the kid is ours.
Some days I need a reminder that we are not strangers everywhere. That first encounters led to second and fifteenth encounters, and things will turn out well for every member of this frigging traveling circus. Even the cat who won’t come from under the bed. She will be fine. Everyone will be okay, of course.
We are just a work in progress!
Drunken Weekday Song
“What was the song about the wine drinking on Sundays?” I ask the opera singer after his encore.
“It sounded very intense, but then everybody sort of laughed at the end.”
“Ah! That was about what he does on every day of the week”, the singer explains.
“A bit of a drunken song”, the pianist chips in.
“Oh, it sounded very intense”, I ponder. “But it was basically a drunkard’s weekdays song?”
How does everyday diplomacy happen in a continent torn up by murderous appetites?
“Please stay a while after the performance”, pleads our hostess tonight of the small crowd. “Let’s keep talking. I feel it’s so, so important.”
We stay. Behind large, locked gates, others hide.