The plan was to get up early and see Helsinki from afar, from the sea. See the two churches somewhere in the horizon, the President’s castle, the City Hall, and the market square, and the Ferris wheel of the amusement park. I wanted to go out to Deck 12 as the ferry was approaching the tiny bay, and I wanted to feel the cold air on my face, and I wanted to worry about how the wind was going to mess up my hair.

I know a guy who used to work here.

I was going to squint, and take a hard and long look at my city, and I was going to get emotional, and maybe even get a little teary-eyed, or misty at the very least.

And when there was going to be a Japanese tourist taking pictures, I would offer to take one for him instead, and then I’d show him the churches, and the square, and the City Hall, and I was going to even point out the Olympic Stadium tower, and tell him that I was born close to it, and that we lived there when Son was born. And then I’d wish him a good day in Helsinki, I’d steal the Stockholm Arlanda airport slogan, and say, “Welcome to my hometown” while holding the door to him, as he went back inside.

But I overslept. And instead of climbing to Deck 12, I went online and checked my email while I ate potato chips for breakfast. When I drove out of the ferry, the sky was gray, grayer than I’ve ever seen, and the clouds were hanging over the city, low, low, so low that I thought I could touch them.

I hope that Japanese tourist had a fun day, anyway.

Welcome to my hometown.

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