Happy Helsinki

She told me I was welcomed in Helsinki. It was nice of her to say, but not exactly something I thought would happen anytime soon. I was right. I didn't. There was never a serious thought, plan, or inclination that could bring me to Northern Europe. But still, it was nice of her to say.

Over two years later I find myself going into Stockholm, Sweden. It was the closest I had ever been to Finland. I knew that if I was ever going to take her invitation it would have to be now. All it took was a message, a favor, a cruise, and we would be reunited. It is really happening. 

I exit the Silja Line cruiseship to find her, Virpi, waiting for me. We hug a hello two years in the making. It is amazing how people after so much time and space can restart a conversation, a connection, a relationship, even a joke, with the original genuiness. It's like we had never parted ways.

We walk through the streets admiring the city’s luxurious innocence. 

From the streets of the Design District, to a rooftop panorama, it is classy metropolis. The monuments are not boisterous, not pretentious. They fit in exactly where they need to be. In a plaza. On a hill. Even the people are interesting to look at. 

"There is something about when I look in their faces," I begin. "I'm curious to know them."

"Yes, I understand. You know, we Finnish are a little bit crazy," Virpi says. 

Well, I know now. Apparently the weather fluctuating between -30° and 30° celsius every year has an effect on them. However, with today’s soothing 23°, everyone is easy going. A sign reads "Happy Helsinki". It's pretty accurate. 

We have only the afternoon. She has to go back to work, and I back to the road. A few photos, a big hug. That's all. We turn our backs and become strangers in the crowd. It could be another two years before meet again, but it's ok. I know i'll be welcomed.