December 07, 2008


At 3 A.M. on Sunday morning, I woke up, got out of bed and walked to my window like I often do if I'm awake in the middle of the night. The first thing I saw when I opened the blinds was a man and a woman having a tender moment against the fence of a small patch of grass just opposite our house. Apparently, Kallion B12 - our local bar - had just closed, and these two were kissing each other with such intense passion I thought they were going to do each other harm. Limbs were flying all over the place, not to mention the woman's immense hairdo. Smiling, I closed the blinds and went back to bed.

Several hours later, at 9 A.M., I got up to put on the computer and open the blinds. I half-expected to find my new favourite couple lying exhausted on the grass, clinging to each other. However, the streets were deserted. A bicycle had toppled over on the pavement and the tram - inexplicably, a stray number 9 - flashed by. I lied in bed on my back, listening to an average performance of a Händel aria from Naxos's online music library, and pieced together scattered thoughts from the year. For the first time in ages the sky had turned blue, and the sun started to show itself, illuminating first Julia's room, then the flowers I had put to be watered in the kitchen, and then my room.

On Friday, I had my last day of work of the year at the Adult Education Centre. The occasion was a concert with the theme "Songs about Helsinki". A big choir was put together, and I conducted songs like "Stadin Kundi" and "Helsinki-valssi" with a newly-found swinging vigour I thought was not going to work this week. Now, staff and students are packing up to move to various locations in Helsinki, and the whole building is going to be closed for refurbishment until 2010. This is not such a bad thing, since some of the classrooms look like something straight out of a war film from Bosnia, and there's an embarrassing smell of sewage all over the place. Not to mention the men's toilets, which are just dreadful.

Meanwhile, I haven't figured out a lot about 2008 yet, except that it was definitely:
The Year Everyone Commits (engagements and weddings galore!),
The Year of Bad News (don't get me started),
The Year of Happy News (definitely very happy news :),
The Year of Concerts (Go Kaamos). Also consider:
The Year of the Entrance Exams (Need I explain?),
The Year of Mixed Signals (no comment),
The Year of The Grandmothers (both in one year!),
The Year of Great Books (One exception: The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher),
The Year of Confusing Circumstances (I'll get back on this one),
The Year of Scares (muggings, riding accidents etc... beware 2009)
The Year of Family and Friends (<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3)
The Me & Myself Year (.. oh never mind)
The Strange Year (they just keep getting stranger....)
The "Everything's Fine" Year (it is, actually...)
The Year I Lost my Umbrella (seriously, it accompanied me for a long time)
The Year of Weddings (oh, I mentioned that one already..)
The Neverending Year (this one was surely longer than the previous ones?)
The Year of Coffee (too much, probably :()

That's enough for now. It's 11 P.M. and somewhere tonight, two lovebirds will find each other in some scrummy bar in this city where we live. And maybe they'll go home, take a pen and open their diaries. What they might write could be: "I thought this year was going to be the most boring year of my life, but yesterday I met somebody, and I feel alive again for the first time in 2008. Tomorrow, I'm meeting him again at the same bar. I don't care if we have only 27 hours of light in all of December. I couldn't care less about this gloomy city now. I'm only thinking: what shall I wear?"