There was less than a month left on this trip. My mindset was drastically changing as each hour ticked off. This trip had consumed my life for almost a year, now it was nearing it’s end. This would be the easiest part – staying with people I’d known for years who spoke English and lived in tidy organized homes in tidy organized cities. I felt my guard coming down. My thoughts were free to think of home. I expected to feel more anxious and excited about resuming all those plans I’d put on hold. Instead home now seemed like a mere concept, a dream.
Donna tapped my arm and reminded me that I only had a few minutes to take the shower I promised her. She smoothed my hair with her fingers. “And don’t forget to use gel.” She gave me a kiss and told me she and the kids would be waiting at the bow deck.
Once packed and properly groomed, I made my way back up the cramped staircase and through the doors leading to the fresh air of the deck. Tree covered islands once again surrounded the ship. I noticed little red cabins, wooden row boats, and all things simple and charming. The aroma of fresh earth, bark, and pine was almost intoxicating. My mind bombarded me with random memories – spotting a tree house along a wooded driveway – collecting tadpoles at a pond – camping along side an abandoned logging trail – I stood there and simply inhaled. I was already home.
Hundreds of other passengers also enjoyed this approach into Helsinki. I could barely move forward in the crowd. I spotted Donna and the kids standing at a railing. She was pointing toward the city and chatting away, smiling and excited. They were only steps away but I felt suddenly detached. A wave of sadness engulfed me.
NEXT: A Finnish 4th of July