I watched her car drive down the street and turn out of sight, then tugged my trolley bag and went to search the correct entrance to my accommodation for the night. It was one of those houses where one of the entrances was illogically on a crossing street, which took a while to figure out. I did very little but dump my luggage in and exchange a few words with my hosts before heading back out.
It was evening and the sun was still high up, as it’s wont to be around midsummer in these northern latitudes. The air was humid and the world felt slimy, thanks to the showers of rain and the day’s thunder. I walked through the downtown, my face to the sun, deep in thought.
I pondered the surprising ease with which we had slipped in to a comfortable, natural friendship. The abandoned community lodge we explored earlier in the day, slowly oxidizing trophy cups of decades old skiing competitions still in the case, the bookkeeping records from 70’s gathering mold in the basement. The Juhannus midsummer weekend with its idle hours in the rental cabin, the almost mandatory barbecues, the barefoot hike from the bottom of the Syvyydenkaivo kettle to the top of Pookivaara fell, and the climb up to the old fire lookout tower. The log-lined canal under an otherwise innocuous countryside bridge, which was surprisingly deep in order to handle the flood waters, and curiously idyllic. The kesäturilas-beetles clogging the birch branches, buzzing around like little freight helicopters, plopping down on the sand still tangled together.
She was test driving her possibly new used car, mulling over its various mechanical failures and inconveniences. Was the burning smell the brakes or the clutch? How many repairs and annoyances would be too much for the price? Pondering and calculating, driving her car further and further away, hopefully never getting out of sight.
Alone in a restaurant, enjoying good food and reading a good book, listening to people talking around me. Feeling very much at home.
As I walked back towards the accommodation, I took stock of the situation. My life for the summer fits in one trolley case and two backpacks. I will spend the weeks doing science in, on and around the sea, and I have no idea where I sleep in any given weekend. I’m not worried, something will turn up, things have a tendency of figuring themselves out. The autumn is gloriously uncertain in every respect. All the stakes have been pulled, all the extra baggage shed.
Alone in a foreign city, living out of luggage, doing interesting things.
It is very easy to breathe.