A long time ago, yes, back in the 1980s, somebody told me that I was one of those people who wouldn’t live in Finland for the rest of his life. I don’t remember how we got to that topic, but I think it came totally out of the blue. The fact that I still remember it tells you how surprised I was to hear someone say something like that.
Naturally, I was pleasantly surprised, in case you’re wondering.In Finland – like many other, especially small countries – making it out of there is a small sign of success.
I’m not sure of that’s what my friend meant and I don’t remember us having a big debate on what it meant to be Finnish, or whether I’d leave the country voluntarily or not.
We probably just went back to talking about Springsteen or the latest James Bond movie, or something similar.
Turned out that my friend was right. I didn’t live in Finland for the rest of my life. I got a job in Sweden and moved to Stockholm.
During my university years, my student apartment in Helsinki was an old hotel room converted into a student apartment which gives you a good idea of what it was like but in short: it was tiny.
I didn’t need much, though, just my vinyls and an ever growing collection of CDs that provided me with the most of the soundtrack of my life. Also, I had Sky Channel and its music shows so there was always music playing in the background from the moment I got up and grabbed the remote to the moment when it fell on the floor from my hand.
And yet, when I think back to those days, I think of just two songs.
In 1986, I spent six weeks of varying gloriousness in Harbor Beach, Michigan, on a summer exchange program. It was a memorable summer in many ways but one of the highlights was that I got to taste New Coke. They were exciting times because not only was there Classic Coke and New Coke, there was also Cherry Coke and Diet Coke, which had been introduced to the Finnish market two years earlier as Coca-Cola Light.
Five years ago, I wrote “Ten Little Stories About a Ten-Year-Old Boy” and since the little boy is now a broad-shouldered teenager, it’s time to list 15 short stories about him. These aren’t really stories, mostly just random facts. They have not been cleared with him, and any embarrassment caused by them is purely coincidental … and part of being a teenager.
For longer than I care to admit, I’ve known that “baby’s got blue eyes”. How blue? Well, like a “deep blue sea on a blue blue day”. I know this because somebody at Dad’s work had taped Elton John’s song ”Blue Eyes” on the same cassette tape as Steve Miller Band’s “Abracadabra” and while I was a much bigger fan of Steve’s gang than Mr. John, sometimes I wasn’t quick enough to press “stop” and listened to Sir Elton’s ballad, too.
Back when Wife and I had just met, and before we lived a walking distance from each other but in our own apartments, and before we had started to regularly spend the nights together in either one of them, it sometimes happened that Wife would leave my place in the evening and sleep at her sister’s place two subway stops down the red line.
One such time, when Wife and I saw each other the next morning at the office, and as we recapped our evenings, she, for a reason I can’t remember anymore, said casually that “she only has hard bread”. Meaning the Swedish knäckebröd, or crispbread, a flat and crisp rye bread.
“Oh,” I said, while making a mental note to always have fresh bread at home when Wife would visit.
“But I like crispbread,” she added, and I made a note of that, too.
I was definitely going to stock up on the knäckebröd as well. (But I was also going to make sure that as long as Wife was hanging out with me, she’d always – always – have soft bread to eat).
Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die, and in a similar fashion, I would love to look good but I hate shopping. Not with passion because I don’t care enough, but still, enough to own several T-shirts from the previous century.
And that’s why I am a lightning-fast shopper when I do hit the shops. I have an image in my head going in, and when I see the thing that matches that image, I’ll buy it.
Admittedly, it doesn’t mean that I have style, or that I’ll look good (or at least as good as in the image in my head) but most of the times I’ll be pleased with what I see in the mirror.
I’m one of those Dads who like to tell stories about the tough times of their childhoods. I’m the guy who tells his kids he didn’t have any toys as a kid, and when they challenge me, I tell them to ask Grandma. And when she laughs and says that I most definitely had toys, I challenge her, and make her list all of my toys, and when she only remembers three of four, I say, “ha!”
And when I then tell Son and Daughter how I had to make cows out of (used) matches and a pair of pine cones, they look at me like I’m crazy and then we have to go on Wikipedia to see what a “cow” is. (I’m kidding, Son and Daughter have seen cows in the wild.)