The digital age.
Making waiting rooms
After the café and the swings you said, ”Mummy, is this the last world? After this one, will there ever be another one?”
Your innocent wondering may have been Super Mario inspired, but it stopped me cold in my tracks. All my guilty plane tickets, all my kilometres driven and all the plastic items I ever bought came over me right there, like a huge dirty tidal wave.
I am sorry I haven’t done more to save your last world, love. I don’t know how, or I do I guess, but it seems next to impossible as a choice. You don’t have to but I hope you can forgive me one day. I haven’t tried hard enough.
There’s no other world for you honey, this is it. This is what I’m leaving you. It looks beautiful and peaceful today, but it’s going to become harder to live in.
I hope you’ll be strong enough, I hope you can stay kind and caring if things get difficult. I hope after it gets worse, it gets better. A lot better, better than we could ever design or plan for, or indeed make happen.
We are not a great generation that saves you and your world. We are the bad guys: the selfish, the stubbornly ignorant and the lazy. The image-anxious. The corrupt and the power hungry.
I see you get to know the world around us, I can see how exciting and beautiful it is for you. I see you study the stars and I want to see them through your eyes. I want to see them through your kids’ eyes, and their kids’. I want them to study and stand on the rooftop and look at stars, because everything down here is fine, and they can – why couldn’t they?
‘There’s no other planet where people can live, dear’, I say gently, squeezing your little hand a bit tighter. But of course, your busy little mind has already moved on.
‘When the man loves the woman more, they have sons’, declared the Ukrainian grandma at the head of the table, nodding at our kids. ‘Da’ attested my gentlemanly husband, giving my thigh a gentle little pat.
We are not this slim, it’s my friend’s camera:)
We were seated around a solid wood table with flowers in the middle, this is Cyprus after all. Outside the air was restlessly shifting under November rain. It was just about to hit these cobbled alleys and mountain pines, and the village dog running up and down the main street barking at cars.
He wouldn’t mind. He had a job to do. So many funny looking Nicosiades to chase!
On the table there were glasses of red, white and water, hot plates of veg and lamb and a salad with fresh bread softening in sweet olive oil. I was tasting something with a difficult name, something quite heavenly when my friend asked of our plans after Cyprus.
‘Where would we go after Cyprus?’ I wondered, looking from plate to plate desperately trying to decide what to try next. ‘What would we eat?’
There was pleasant agreement over the impossibility of eating anything in other countries. We continued the meal surrounded by the old stone walls and happily lunching kids. My other half who has been so absent-minded lately seemed to be quite content too, amidst steaming little plates being entertained by our friend the walking library of… romantic jokes.
I can imagine someone leaving Cyprus for New York maybe. Lots of good stuff to eat there!
But right now I really can’t see where else anyone would like to go after Cyprus, nor indeed why!
And I think grandma might just agree with me! She is clearly a very wise lady.
Tonight we got some takeaway. It’s Sunday night and we are both a bit worse for wear.
One has muscle pain after running around in the cold evening breeze thinking they were 17.
The other has her usual number of worries, just because!
This week was the last week one unlucky stray kitten got to live. His short story ended under a heat lamp at the vet’s.
Next door to him three little former strays slept in a warm and cosy heap. To wake up again soon, curious and playful, for another lovely day.
This was the week when French Conversation was cancelled and we didn’t know that. Waiting, we covered everything from space travel to Cyprus problem.
This week our building shook violently with the pitter patter of four Darth Vaders playing some kind of a beastly space tag. One of the Darths had previously soothed a fading kitten but was now full of cheery fight again.
Like you want your kids to be, a while after a disappointment.
It was when I woke up on Saturday and decided to contribute my five cents to the Cyprus question debate. My overture was met with a surprised and a tad exasperated look from the neighbouring pillow.
This one by my spouse who is a patient type
It was the week we froze in bed. Not so much because of the CyProb pillow talk but because it seems
summer is gone.
Sometimes in my new life, going around minding my own business, something triggers a severe and unexpected attack of happiness.
Often it’s houses, like this one above. I mean, what an entrance for an ordinary block of flats! Like going into a Greek poetry library when you’re in fact just going to load up the washing machine, aren’t you!
Absurdity is another trigger. Yesterday I bent my head to pass from under the branches of a tree standing on the pavement – and the whole thing buzzed. The entire tree was alive with thousands of bees. (Meanwhile in Finland, snow is drifting onto the ground.)
Surprise happiness attacks. Oof.
Doing something new is a suspected happiness source as well. Last Saturday I chaired a meeting between similarly motivated strangers. Something new was established for young Finns in Nicosia. Afterwards, smelling of smoke (the kids’ play area was in the smoking section of the café – because kid smokers?) I got into my car and BANG! Stinky happy driver approaching from twelve o’clock!
The fourth culprit is pleasant repetition after a tumultuous time. I lounge on in the balcony contemplating nothing. A bit unsteady, it’s not a sofa I sit on but an old spare mattress on a cardboard box. Some people don’t have time for garden furniture shopping apparently. And then the moon rises shyly from the corner of my building: Hey Aino, how are you, how’s Cyprus?
Hey moon, Cyprus is just so lovely!
And I’m here and the food really is just so good and we have a stray cat friend you know!
And people friends. Please say hello to home country when you get there. It’s the one with the thousand lakes and the thousand freezing postmen.
The new normal. I think we are now living it because days are starting to resemble each other. So maybe I can now show you what life is like on a regular Monday and maybe it will still ring true after a year or two? I wouldn’t mind if it did.
6.40 Out of bed, to the command centre located at the fruit bowl. That’s where all important papers seem to hang out, uninvited. (Different devices also like to charge their batteries there, on top of the avocados. So rude!)
Try to make out my kids’ ever-changing school schedules, can’t see anything. Remember now have reading glasses, put them on. Husband bought them for me after my protests that I couldn’t see his work tweets when he stuck his phone in my face and asked for opinions. Such an amazing present. Can now admire his work tweets so much. Also have little reading lights on both sides. Like the headlights of a car. Can read things in the dark!
6.45 Finally up to speed about who has P.E. today and can start ironing uniforms. Do it on the bed because of the rush, accidentally iron sheets underneath into tight creases. Dang. Meanwhile husband has carried comatose offspring to sofa and disappeared. Don’t know what to do with poor floppy children. Only brought them home at 9.20 last night forchristssake! Weekend by the sea – fun during, painful the morning after. Put on Cartoon Network. Disappear into the kitchen.
7.10 Cartoon Network revived children. Hurrah! But they don’t like the butter because it’s not the same brand they they were used to in Switzerland. Lecture/encouraging pep talk about aquired tastes and angry daddies who detest being late for work. Pack third grader’s backpack, like every morning. I know I said I wouldn’t do it anymore! But 7.10! Butter dispute! Swimming after school! Brother has tennis! Angry husband alert! Where is the racquet?
7.30 There they go. Phew! Follow their departure from the balcony to be absolutely sure.
Then coo at balcony plants. Give water to whoever is looking a bit rough. Coo some more.
Worry about lost youth. Reading glasses! Talking to plants! What next?
Panicky fit of ‘what happened to my youth?’: Put on sneakers and cap and rush out for sporty walk. Should probably run but use 2009 knee problem as excuse as always. Happily stroll around taking pictures with my phone instead.
Getting a bit hot around 8.20.
But what flowers!
And what a light.
9.05 Back home quite sweaty. Type a message to my client asking if they need any writing done. Remember computer refused to start on Friday. Stop typing.
Have breakfast and shower in peace.
To the Swiss, midsummer doesn’t mean much. That’s because over here, summer is warm and long and not urgent and panicky and brief. Like back home in the north.
The height of the international Nordic panic is at midsummer when all Finns, Swedes and Norwegians simultaneously realise that summer is actually half way gone and they kinda did nothing to live it to the fullest. So they cancel their Netflix in a regretful haze, rush off to their seaside cottages and lakeside cottages and start posting about living summer to the fullest.
The ultimate Scandi Noir tragedy nobody posts about of course is, that when you try to go outside to enjoy the fleeting summer to the fullest, you barge straight back in again terrified, chased by a fierce regiment of organised mosquitos. No pictures of that on Instagram that I’ve seen!
And I’m not saying this because I’m jealous of all my social media buddies posting pictures from seaside cottages. Nope! No jetties, barbecues or rowboats for me please. Ditto birch branches tied together on the doorsteps of old saunas. Yucks. Brrr.
If anyone asks, I am NOT interested in drinking cider on the cliffs by the shore, thanks very much. Watching the sun set into the island opposite while quietly dipping into the lake would be my definition of a wasted evening. Same goes for sleeping in old boats gently rocked by the lovely little waves of the white night while water birds coo.
That would be most undesirable indeed!
I much prefer to go to my storage room and cry looking at all the things I have to sort and haven’t!
So, happy midsummer, Switzerland.
I’m so excited to be living my summer here to the fullest!
Ps. It turns out I am going to a brunch tomorrow to mark the occasion. Not that I would want to! No, it’s solely for representational purposes. And I’ll be back in my storage room midsummer night’s dream before you can say ‘Hyvää juhannusta!’
Last weekend I was traipsing around some palaces.
Indulging in decorative lunches on islands not so very unappealing.
Sharing rooms with my beau and only him.
Getting carried away by history and white peacocks, statues and such.
Sampling the beverage of gods.
This weekend I am sitting in the storage room underground.
In a big cloud of dust.
Who bought all this stuff that’s filling up my storage room?
I am lunching on McDonald’s. Sipping the divine beverage of Coke Zero.
I’m sharing my storage room with no-one actually cause no-one would want to come down here.
Nor would they spot me from inside this massive cloud of dust anyway!
I’m so sweaty.
Maybe there’s a time tunnel down here somewhere?
Sometimes they get to me, they do. The little worries, doubts and regrets of everyday life. Some days I can wave them off with an amused smirk, on others they pile up on my heart and I feel it’s getting a little bit heavy now, actually.
Everyone struggles with something.
The art of it, I guess, is to check again each morning if it’s one of those days when I can shrug it off again.
If not, cuddling.
Wistful Rufus Wainwright singalongs.
Who’s afraid of the little sorrows of everyday life?
We have a friend visiting this weekend. She came with her hubby to see us and to indulge in some nutty endurance sports.
In sixth grade this friend and I liked the same boy. We have recently gotten over that.
On eight grade, she refused to play the violin at our mega giga amazeballs spring concert. It would have been deadly embarrassing, end of quote.
(What a weirdo, right? Everyone knows that violins and class spring concerts are the coolest!)
At 21, we spent long evenings watching films and series in our shared apartment. We were in Helsinki, my boyfriend was in Cyprus and her boyfriend was a bit vague. But we had French fries and beer!
When she got ill, my boyfriend and I wanted to cheer her up. And wine was just so easy to smuggle into the hospital in a juice carton, duh! I mean if they didn’t want that sort of thing happening then they surely would have done something to prevent such initiatives, right? Like a big illustrated sign? Or a police dog specialising in Cyprus reds, maybe?
Before my hen party, she called me up to say she couldn’t come. The wonderful reason for her absence is now at sports camp, with her own lovely friends. Hopefully they’re not into the same boys, or girls, or whatever. That sorta thing is just so hard to get over, isn’t it. Can take decades..!
Oh and yes, those boyfriends from when we were 21 are both here. One’s about to run the Harmony Geneva Marathon for UNICEF and the other is about to have a nap in the afternoon. I mean, there’s no sign against that, is there? Definitely not.
(And if there was, we are renegades! Aren’t we?)