Home, where I can brush my teeth whenever I want, where I can make coffee and sip it in bed, where I can wear pajamas all day. Home, where I don’t need to constantly worry about getting my belongings stolen off of me.
Yes, I truly made it. The disaster I was waiting for all this time never happened. Perhaps I’m more responsible and grown up than I thought? Or ridiculously lucky. Either way, I’m happy to be home. Partly I’m happy because I love it and missed it, not to mention how comfortable my bed now is after all those adventures. Partly I’m happy because I’ve come back with so much more life in me, and proved to myself and everyone that I can (literally and hopefully figuratively) go places. I can live life for me, the way I want it. Yes I can take my ukulele everywhere I go!
So how did I actually get myself from Germany to Helsinki? Well… there were a couple twists and turns. After picking my way through all the food samples at a market in Düsseldorf, I found the one bus of the day that would take me to the obscure airport. Two hours later in the afternoon I got off in front of a modest building with a big banner on it stating ‘AIRPORT’. I found this most helpful, because I genuinely would not have been sure what it was otherwise. From here, my original plan was to squat inside the airport until 5 A.M. waiting for my flight. Sure, I could just huddle with my bag on some bench for the night. Saving money, right? Well, my mother dearest caught wind of this plan and booked me a room at the airport hotel right then and there. Because I didn’t want her to have a stroke, I sullenly took it. Contrary to expectation, this hotel did not make my evening easy. It was so darn cheap they had an automat for checking in, and when I attempted to do so, it told me it could not find my reservation. Even though I’d received the confirmation e-mail. Great. This is why I have a general preference for real people; you can reason with them. At this point I called the hotel hotline as I got prepared to spend my night in the hallway huddling my bag. After an hour I talked to someone who got me into a room. Phew! When I did get in, I took about the longest shower of my life because they can pay for all the water I want!!
I got up at 4 in the morning to the airport, and miraculously got on to the plane without a problem. It probably went so smoothly because I kept expecting the worst… Two hours later I got off in Lappeenranta, Finland. You know that movie scene when the main character travels far and steps off a plane or bus expecting a glorious new setting but discovers a whole load of nothing with a faint cricket noise in the background?
I now know exactly how that feels. The airport was all of a flat box with two rooms and the one airplane. It was really rather impressive to see how small airports can get. So I walked downtown (to all three streets of it) honestly unable to believe I was reading Finnish everywhere around me. After all this time surrounded by languages I don’t understand, I felt strangely able and not lost, despite not having a clue where I really was. I found the train station and hopped on the next train to Helsinki. Two hours later I walked out into the city I’ve known my whole life and could not stop smiling with recognition and the familiarity of it. And the feeling of knowing exactly where I am and where I’m going to. Not used to that anymore! I marched back all the way to my front door with my backpack and ukulele still tightly in hand to surprise my family. A classic happy reunion. The unconventional but every bit as happy reunion here was between me and my dog. It was like having a white piece of fluff showering love all over you. I really missed you too, puppy.
That’s it then. That’s my next page well and turned, and now I’m supposed to go back to normality. It’s strange. I’ve gotten used to always having a train to catch or a city to explore or people from god knows where to meet. I’m still struggling to believe I’ve seen and done all the things that I have. Running through the night in Amsterdam, drinking wine in a castle in France, playing my ukulele along the Seine in Paris… Just a couple things I’m so glad are now a part of my life. Not only has travelling left me with memories and stories and friends, it’s also made me a little bit more me. I know what I can do, I know what I don’t want to do. I think throwing yourself into a place you have no connection with brings out things about yourself you never knew before. I now know I can speak more French than I let myself believe, I know as long as I have my ukulele I will be okay. Most of all, I know I can’t wait to go off again and see what else the world has to offer. Elephants are on the list, along with the Amazon and just about every country I can think of. Plus the ones I can’t think of. Once you’ve seen a new page of the world, you get a thirst for the whole book.
P.S. So this is indeed the end of my journey, and therefore, my writing as you know it. I’ll be keeping this blog and still writing so no worries; it’ll just be more of an eclectic collection of stories.