When my birthday started drawing near, Heli asked me if I wanted stuff or experiences for my present. I told her that I always opt for the latter if given a choice, since matter is the manacles of the soul. Experiences is what I got, indeed!
Earlier this spring we had considered doing a rope descent from the roof of our 20 story tall building – with or without permission – and Heli thought about making that happen for my birthday. Even though I have gained a grip on my fear of heights, I’m kind of grateful that didn’t pan out for a bunch of reasons, because 20 goddamn floors.
Apparently Heli did a lot of brainstorming with a bunch of our pals, who ended up being damn generous with both the ideas and the funding. So, the birthday experience ended up being a string of fun activities ranging from sports to culture and spanning over a month – and it kicked off with a bit of codebreaking and treasure hunt in our apartment.
So, the indoor geocaching and codebreaking (while drinking bubbly and quality coffee and munching on Sacher cake) yielded a pretty fun sounding combination: there would be a parkour intro class, a visit to an adventure park where you go through obstacle courses and zip lines fastened in the height of 18 meters up in trees, there would be a sense-horror theatre show where the audience is blindfolded, and a room escape. Oh, and the boobtastic museum card which yields a free entry to over 200 museums for a year.
Goddamn, simply awesome!
Horror Theatre, Blindfolded
Our first stop was a horror theatre show called Viimeinen vuoro (Last train) by Teatteri Tuike. I don’t want to tell too much about it, in case people are still about to see it, but the basic idea is that the audience is sitting blindfolded in what is made to feel like an ordinary metro car. There were ordinary and HC seating options, and in the latter ones there was some physical interaction, like touching. The story itself worked really well, and as a horror fan with synesthesia and who pays a lot of attention to smells the show was a blast. If you have the chance to catch this show, go and experience it!
Zip-lines and a Surprising Lack of Fear
Our second stop was Treetop Adventure Huippu, where we went with a crew of four adults (including the old pal Syke whom I haven’t seen much in the last two decades) and two kids, the latter of whom could run circles around us. There were several routes built between the trees and classified into four categories in terms of how difficult and strenuous they were (and, one supposes, how scary). The lowest ones were in the height of a few meters, but the worst/best ones were at the height of 18 meters. There was a thick safety wire going through the routes and everyone was attached to it with a climbing harness and fixed rollers you couldn’t detach, so it was pretty safe.
Some of the obstacles were quite easy, no more difficult than walking over a steady rope bridge, but some of them offered much more challenge – like vertical nets or especially routes that consisted only of hanging loops of rope. Doing an accidental split on the latter was scarily possible. Again, it was the adults who had the problems here, not the kids. My theory of improbable evolution is that we all start as little tree monkeys and as we get older we evolve into loping plains apes.
Oh, speaking of zipping around, the zip-lines were the coolest damn thing! The longest one was something like 114 meters and it started from a high point in the tree. You got a nice amount of speed there, and most of us ended landing on our asses or shoulders in the wood chips on the other end.
I was amazed at how well I have gotten rid of the fear of heights. I had absolutely no problem standing on the small platforms, even when really dark clouds started rolling over the sunny skies and the wind turned really gusty, which made the trees wave in a way that you could really feel and see.
Room Escape Running Rabbit
Whenever Heli and I have gone to the boulder cave Isatis, we’ve paid attention to a room escape company in the same building called Room Escape Running Rabbit, and this was a perfect chance to try it out. There were two rooms, the easier one has a KGB theme, and the more difficult one is about childhood nightmares. We had a full team, so we split between the two rooms, me, Anne, Aki and Heli opting for the horror one. Again, don’t want to tell too much about the room because of spoilers, but for the first room escape experience it worked for me really well. The props were nice and the puzzles were aplenty. Our team made good time and got out with six minutes to spare. Apparently something like half the groups make it out of there at all, so not bad!
The last leg of the birthday bonanza was an intro course to parkour held at Helsinki parkour center. I initially thought about postponing it to September when I would be back home from the summer long diving job, since I was a bit wary of injuries. That would’ve been weird in many ways, and it would’ve taken away the momentum from the whole thing. So, living on the edge, I booked it for the last week before I leave for the summer. The course started with a fun warm-up and a short intro to some of the basic parkour moves, like a step vault, a sort of sitting leg swing vault, tic tac, wall run and faffing about on pipes. And, of course, falling safely. Then we were let loose to practice and to try some more demanding stuff, like cat hangs and pull ups.
For me the parkour intro was pure enjoyment of physical confidence. I’m still getting used to the fact that I’m in so much better shape than a few years ago, and doing the techniques was not only possible for me, but it was fun. Of course, the movement was far from fluid, but at least I didn’t have to pop my shoulder back to place like after my first parkour trial seven years ago (granted, there was no teacher then and we indeed didn’t know what we were doing).
After the training we walked out to have a couple of beers near a Bierhaus next to the Malmi station. While walking and chatting with friends I realized that this has been pretty much the most memorable and special birthday I can remember, and I’m really so grateful for Heli arranging it and all the pals helping make it happen and taking part in the activities. A damn good way to switch decades.
The Mandatory Pondering About the Passage of Time
The birthday and the assorted activities may be over, but in a couple of days I’m off to new adventures that fill me with anticipation, excitement, and a slightest bit of trepidation. Tomorrow some friends will come for a BBQ/sauna farewell party, and on Sunday I’ll hop in a car and head towards the Bothnian Bay, where I’ll be working as a nature surveyor and a scientific diver for the summer. That’s one childhood dream job in the bag – a diving marine biologist. After that, who knows. Heli and I will continue doing our climbing, diving, fishing, geocaching, breaking & entering with the intent to photograph etc. together, but not as a couple. This is by mutual, friendly decision, and I love the fact that this is how the breakup went. Does this sting? Sure as fuck it does. Then again, I may’ve lost a SO, but I have gained a very good buddy with whom I’m very much on the same frequency. Looking at the final tally I’ll chalk this under a win, no mistake about that.
After I return from the seas, maybe I’ll move to another city following a very enticing game industry job that is on the cusp of happening, or maybe I’ll move somewhere else in the capital region and try to get a games job here, I have no idea yet. If all the other plans fall through, maybe I’ll do that jaunt at Red Sea as a dive guide I had to skip a few years ago because of financial bullshit. I like to think I have a lot of options where to go from here, I’m a deluded optimist like that.
Apparently I should be having some sort of crisis about aging, having managed to stay alive against pretty steep odds for this arbitrary amount of years. Time running out, having to let go of childish dreams, realizing one can’t do everything, blah blah. I honestly don’t care. It was only after I turned 30 that my life started to make some sort of vague sense, and as I homed in on 40, I started actually being happy and serene in a way I’ve never been. Serene doesn’t equal sedentary, though. I’m doing more stuff than ever, but it’s the stuff that I want to do, not the stuff I feel I have to do. As for those “childish dreams”, I’m actually now fulfilling them one by one and happy about it as a baby in a barrelful of nipples. Can’t do everything? I’ve done most things I’ve wanted to and now I’m coasting for extended goals. For the first time ever I feel I’m more or less who I want to be and where I want to be in, which I consider to be the opposite of a problem.
So, the plan for the next decade is to keep living the extended youth and being just damn a-okay about it. I’m just excited to see what life will bring next. Be it good or bad, I don’t care. As long as it isn’t boring.