With Rage I Shall Burst

”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!

Hungry Cats

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.

Farewell Card

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?”

“Yes!”

Moral Choices

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.

Oof

* Suomenkielinen versio kuvan jälkeen *

Written mid-February 2022

Covid got to our family finally. So everyone went to their own rooms and life proceeded very quietly.

Except for the night-time earthquake, which sent our fourth-floor apartment energetically sliding back and forth in the dark, like on a slippery oil spill.

My husband rushed to the living room to simultaneously tug at all the cords of all the window blinds. Apparently to know if the city was still standing, but he had never learned which cord brings the blinds up and which one down. I was going from one kid’s door to the other with my hair standing up, saying parently things like ‘It’s an earthquake’, wondering when the heck it would stop, wasn’t it a bit long and a bit strong, should we all go under the boys’ ridiculous Ikea desks, and what was my husband was doing in the big window in his underwear.

But of course we were all fine here in Cyprus. We were.

Around the time of the earthquake and the covid infection, political tectonic plates here in Cyprus shifted too. And so it seems we will be out of here soon. The idea itself is exciting – very, very exciting (details soon when confirmed). But tidying up after our just completed quarantine today, I am wondering what I’m supposed to pack from this stint. Cats and dresses and guitars alright, but which life lessons?

If I’m honest this so-called home posting felt a bit like a punch in the face. Hair pulling. Something rude for sure. It started fine with friends and family and sea and sun and all, but something big was on its way. The turning point was ironically an actual picnic in the park with friends, after which life was never the same again. That is really weighing on me right now. That we didn’t get back to things being fine again, but off we go.

So I am excited and down at the same time, regretting and imagining and trying to get it through to myself the covid pandemic isn’t entirely my fault. And that maybe we weren’t the only ones who didn’t live the last two years to the maxxx. Or were we? Was everyone else making incredible memories all this time and we just weren’t there?

Leaving France back in 2009

 

Kirjoitettu helmikuun 2022 keskivaiheilla

Covid tunki lopulta kotiimme. Linnouttauduimme kaikki huoneisiimme, ja elämä soljui hetken hyvin rauhallisesti.

Paitsi yöllisen maanjäristyksen aikana. Se liikutti viidennen kerroksen kämppäämme energisesti edestakaisin pimeässä kuin liukkaalla öljypinnalla. Mies säntäsi olohuoneeseen kiskomaan samanaikaisesti kaikkien kaihtimien naruja. Kuulema hän halusi tietää, oliko kaupunki vielä pystyssä, muttei koskaan ollut oppinut mistä narusta kaihtimet nousevat ylös ja mistä laskeutuvat alas. Itse hypin lastenhuoneen ovelta toiselle hiukset pystyssä jakaen vanhemmallisia viisauksia kuten ‘Tämä on maanjäristys’.

Milloin tää loppuu? mietin samalla unisilla aivoillani. Eiks tää oo kestäny jo aika pitkään? Ja eiks tää oo aika voimakaskin? Pitääks meidän suojautua poikien työpöytien alle? Nehän on Ikeasta hitto soikoon! Ja mitä mies tekee isossa ikkunassa kalsarisillaan – tällaisella hetkellä?

Jäimme sitten kuitenkin henkiin. Meillä täällä Kyproksella on kaikki hyvin.

Covid-tartunnan ja maanjäristyksen aikoihin Kyproksella siirtyivät myös poliittiset mannerlaatat, minkä seurauksena olemme todennäköisesti muuttamassa täältä pian. Ajatus sinänsä on tosi tosi kiva ja jännä (lisätietoja pian kun asia varmistuu). Silti tänään juuri päättyneen karanteenimme jälkiä siivoillessamme en oikein tiedä, mitä pakata tältä reissulta mukaan. Kissat ja mekot ja kitarat jes, mutta että niinkuin elämänoppeja?

Jos nyt ihan rehellisiksi heittäydytään, niin tämä niin kutsuttu kotiposti tuntui vähän niinkuin pieniltä turpakäräjiltä. Hiustenvedolta. Joltain aika röyhkeältä tosiaan. Hyvin tämä alkoi kun oli kavereita ja Kyproksen-sukua ja merta ja aurinkoa ja kaikkea, mutta jotain isoahan oli kulman takana. Käännöskohta tapahtui ironisesti aurinkoisella puistopiknikillä kavereiden kesken. Sen jälkeen elämä ei palautunut enää koskaan ennalleen. Se tässä painaa juuri nyt. Ei ehditty palata siihen missä kaksi vuotta sitten oltiin, ja nyt pitää jo lähteä.

Nyt juuri olen siis valtavan innostunut ja samaan aikaan alamaissa. Kadun ja kuvittelen, ja yritän takoa päähäni, ettei tämä koronapandemia varmaan ihan täysin mun syytäni ole. Ja että ehkei me oltu ainoat, jotka ei elänyt ihan täysiä viimeisen kahden vuoden aikana. Vai oltiinko? Oliko kaikki muut isoissa yhteisissä fantastissa juhlissa, joihin meitä ei kutsuttu?

Syrian Meze

‘How was your day?’

‘Got good news and bad news.’

‘Oh. Don’t tell me neither, please.’

‘Not even the good news?’

‘Nope. Don’t wanna know.’


One hour later, via text:


‘So, what’s the bad news?’

‘Traveling Thursday to Monday.’

‘That is bad news indeed.’

‘Well, at least it’s extra money again.’

‘I need an ice-cream. I need Syrian meze.’


Half an hour later eating Syrian meze alone on my bed trying not to mind my travelsome other half. No ice-cream. But got Smarties in a small colorful box.


Thursday night our youngest falls ill. Outside it gets cold for the first time. Our walls are entirely made of window glass.

No petrol for heating. Cover him with four blankets and try to get to sleep after he does.

And yet Goddammit

A Friend with Colourful Clothes

“Are you okay though?”
“Yeah, why?”
“You don’t look it really.”
“Hahah it’s just the way I look. It’s just my look!”

“And you never call me.”
“I know! I want to, but I just can’t.”
“Why?”
“I don’t know why… I don’t know. I guess I’ve got something going on there?”

“Just abort those thoughts, can’t you?’
“Eww! Erggh…”
“What? Just abort them in your head.”
“I’m thinking of…”
“An actual abortion?”
“Yeah!”

“He becomes so disrespectful… Does your husband become disrespectful when you wake him up to go somewhere?”
“Wake him up? I sleep until 10 on weekends!”

“I want to wear bright colours, go out, have fun finally…”
“That’s amazing, good for you!”
“Just to live life, you know!”
“With my lunch out here, I drink a glass of diet 7up. I really enjoy it.”

“Did you know I still work from home too?”
“Oh, you do?”
“I do!”
“I’ll be there on Wednesday!”

Lady Luck’s Favourites

Where on Earth did I leave off?

Oh, wow! I was mad at Cyprus for ignoring kids in the pandemic lockdown.

It was horrific, it’s true.

But then they let us out, and we roamed free like 10-headed monsters who couldn’t decide which way to stumble first.

Coves, caves, mountain tops, gorges and deserted beaches of Akamas. Our monsters manically ran from corner to corner. Swam in the day and in the dark night.

We even had long, bright beach days with friends.

Remember those? Friends?

Beaches?

And because we are Lady Luck’s favourite children, we also made it to Finland during the brief period it was doable.

We saw my parents, well and happy.

It was warm all the time. Warm and sunny and green and most nautical.

We visited some friends overnight. Visited! Friends!

Incredulously, I do seem to recall that we stayed at a spa.

Tested for covid.

Tested again.

Cleaned out my summer pad. Postponed our return because of a fever.

Tested for covid.

Boarded our night flight fever-free, and touched Larnaca soil in the morning hours.

Tested for covid.

Swore would never travel again in order not to test for covid.

Got the kids back to school full time finally.

Took a two-month content writing assignment. Made money.

Went to cafés after school for lemonade and cookies with my newfound wealth.

Not many times and not worry-free. But went.

For their sake.

Spontaneously spotted a gallery and went in for a little tour and chat, for my sake. Talked through masks, and not unconcerned. But went anyway. And talked to this stranger working there.

Now I know what to buy one day when perhaps will have regular pay.

That was then!

To be continued

Fatherland

You locked us up!

You locked me up! And my brother, he’s younger you know. Oh yeah and my mum, too.

For weeks and weeks, while you were busy elsewhere. 

After we had been in there a bit my mum stopped working.

Some weeks from that I stopped missing my friends so much.

You told us nothing but to stay in there.

My brother is not as old as me, you know. He can’t do what I can. And he doesn’t want to, so he fights my mum.

I fight him and her, and then we can do what we want for a while but somehow it hurts. 

While you were busy elsewhere, we were less and less busy in there. 

You were doing important things every day and telling my parents about it every night. 

But you talked only of other people. 

My mum held my brother, and fought the school people, then one day she stopped teaching my brother. On the TV you talked about everyone else. 

Those who were having a hard time with the whole virus thing that is going on.

Healing yet?

Not yet.

Less angry maybe at State & Life, more angry probably at wild children rubbing sand down each other’s necks. We have to drive back in a car! A car! For people!

Bringing kids out of a long lockdown is honestly proving more complicated than keeping them there, which was very hard.

Things are hard.

We wrestle by the main street.

We air our grievances in the summer house.

I sob in the bakery. Wearing a friggin double cotton mask and some ridiculously huge see-through gloves. Like some inadequately equipped builder. Desperate for a break from a never-ending, payless shift at the world’s most beautiful AND COMPLICATED building site.

After seven in the evening, I threaten sand-coated people in the beach shower. People who suddenly seem to have lost all ability to compromise. We are the three uncompromising beach goers on empty stretches of waves and seashells and millions of grains of sand that want to come home with us.

I wouldn’t call this healing.

Maybe shared, love-based suffering in glorious natural surroundings?

I’m Going, You Stay!

That’s what I burst out to and left. Furious, with bags, and keys and grievances, I left for our family weekend at our summer place – all alone.

It’s fair to say that these Corona Avoidance months in Cyprus have not been my personal best.

Just today, who was that?

I’ve thought about it here, surrounded by frowning swimming toys and their silent accusations.

So, there is a bit of anger.

What to do with it now that we are free again?

Corona Kids

How will you remember all this?

All those germs you couldn’t see

Classmates looking dazed on their screens

Your teacher saying he loves you all

Little vampires at night

Too much of what you wanted

Let’s wait until they pass

I am too tired now to talk my love

Making money

Painting on the roof

Don’t touch ANYTHING

Cats darting through doors

The quiet

All those people out there, trying to get back home

Home

Scenes from Home

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“How dare they! How dare they! They have no idea what it’s like to have kids holed up in an apartment! How old are these men? What makes them think they can do this to us?”

“Babe. You’re in denial.”

“I am not in denial! This is nuts! Such overkill I never saw in my life! What about mothers? What about our jobs? Who is going to do our jobs, and what will happen to the country if we suddenly just stop working? They think oh those women, what work do they do anyway. It’s what they are for, to care for their kids anytime, all the time, always there, no problem, just shove this on them. We are going to be in here for six and a half weeks. Six and a half weeks!”

“This thing is dangerous. Seen what’s going on in Italy? We are a small country. We don’t have the capacity for that.”

“How many cases have you guys got? How many?”

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“We just got to hunker down for two weeks, dear. The borders are closing now and this thing will peak in two weeks. You will call me, I will call you. Then it will get easier.”

“That does make sense. That does make me feel a bit better actually. Thanks.”

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“The sun is in my eyes! I want my cap!”

“Darling, you can’t put a cap on a bicycle helmet. I brought you sunglasses! Look, love.”

“They are too big! They fall off! It’s too bright!”

“They are just fine, love. Look, I’ll put them under here. No way they can fall off now.”

“They make me dizzy! I can’t see! Why didn’t you bring me a cap!”

“We aren’t going back for a cap now, so please quit whining. Isn’t it nice to be outside?”

“Not nice! Useless! These stupid glasses make so dizzy! They are useless! You are useless, do you hear me! Mama!”

“Okay take them off then, love, and let’s carry on. And that hurt my feelings.”

“Haha! Good! You hurt my feelings with this stupid brightness!”

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“X just tested positive for coronavirus.”

“How is he?”

“He’s okay. So far so good.”

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“Do you know what this thing can do to our family if you keep going around? Do you think I will make it if I catch it? And what about you? We can’t die! They need me! They need… me.”

“I’m so careful. And there’s nearly no-one there anymore. The doors are all open so we don’t have to touch them at all. I clean my hands all the time.”

“I’m going to put my mattress on the floor!”

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“Mama, is there coronavirus in Finland?”

“Yes, darling.”

“Are Mummu and Vaari going to catch it?”

“No love, I don’t think so. They only go out to go to the woods and run after birds with cameras, don’t they? They just sit at home or go bird watching. You can’t catch it if you don’t see anyone.”

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