For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to live in Europe. Preferably Paris. On the top floor of an old apartment building with ornate wrought iron railings encircling tiny window balconies. A place that my mother would use the term “rustic is rusty” to describe.
I wanted to browse book markets along the river banks on weekends and leisurely enjoy my espresso and croissant during indulgent mornings off. To be as fiercely independent as I’ve ever been but in a big city where people don’t know my name, family and entire last decade of mistakes.
To be away from the noise of familiarity so I could focus on writing, creating, thinking. To fill my apartment with second hand finds that I fixed up a little and combined to make the perfect effortless bohemian vibe. To have time and space to find myself. Parts of me that were pushed to the side for so long. The artist. The vagabond. The lover of life. And men.
I got most of that over the last two years. It was a different European city and different life but I found so many things that I was looking for in the heart-breakingly beautiful capital of Finland.
I also got many things I wasn’t expecting. Time and permission to really appreciate personal space and a slower paced life. Many beautiful friendships that I will cherish for the rest of my life. A love of winter. A desire to belong. An appreciation of little things- being able to read the newspaper and know what’s happening in the place you live. Being able to call home and see friendly faces whenever you want.
I’ve fallen in love with so many things about Finland- the honesty and integrity of the majority of the people here. The genuineness about any question asked of you. The trust that you are doing the right thing. The fierce protection of independence. The love and protection of nature.
Finland truly is a place of equality, fairness and opportunities. The president shovels his own snow-covered driveway in winter and takes an AI course form the local University- I can’t imagine the leader of many other countries doing the same. I am so grateful to have spent the last two years in the country voted #1 for happiness in the world. I have to agree- it really is a magical place to live.
But there have also been many times where I have felt excluded. Mostly unconsciously done by others but nonetheless, it has made me eager to search out other places in the world where I feel both excited to explore and discover, as well as being accepted and included.
So I’m off. I leave today on an indefinite journey. Some parts of my trip are planned but many details are left open. I’m not really afraid of the unknown anymore. The last two years have taught me to trust myself and my capabilities more than I could have hoped.
I hope I’ll see you out there.