My sister thinks that people can be divided into two groups on the basis of what kind of body of water they identify themselves with: there are lake people and there are sea people. My mother is a lake person; she even lives right by one and calls the lake in question "the scenery of her soul". My father, my sister and I are drawn to the sea. My father has lived at sea in some form or another for as long as I can remember. Even if he hasn't exactly resided next to the sea at all times, he has traveled to it often and taken my sister and I with him.
These days my father lives on a small island off the coast of Helsinki.
As children my sister and I spent countless weeks during our summer vacations with our father on the beaches of Southern Finland. The beaches there are not your typical pretty sandy paradises - the landscape is rugged, torn, rough. I remember vividly the prickly, mussel-shelled dunes with crookedly grown pine trees and the small pine cones in the sand, scattered around like stones, as well as the smell of salt and wind in my hair at night. I remember what it felt like to walk on the barren ground barefoot, how the dry pine needles sometimes stuck to the soles of my feet with sap.
After a day spent on my father's island, I took a little trip to Hanko, the most southern town in Finland, where many of my childhood summer trips with my father took place. I can't explain why I wanted to travel there after all these years - I hadn't been back there since the days of my childhood. My husband and I have been entertaining thoughts of moving to Finland one day, and I had an odd gut feeling that I should go see what Hanko looks like these days.
The affinity I felt with Hanko today was immediate. I got out of the car, and there were the dunes, the pines, the sea; I felt a strange, almost primordial rush of memories, all in one neat package, focused in and around this small town by the sea. In an instant, just like that, I could see my husband and I living there happily ever after. Moving to Hanko wouldn't necessarily be the most rational choice: the town's economy is bad, and it is considered by most people "a nice summer town but just wait for the winter"-type of place. But there is something about it I can't quite explain, something that made my heart almost skip a beat today as I stood on the beach and gazed out at sea. It was the type of breathlessness you feel when you encounter a place (or a person, or a piece of art) so beautiful but so heart-wrenching, that you almost have to look away.
So call me crazy, but I think I might want our family to move to Hanko. I guess there have been sillier things people have dreamt about, and there are sillier things to base one's dreams on than childhood memories.
I am wearing a second hand dress and necklace, both bought at the Hakaniemi market. Second hand sunglasses and belt are from Hietsu flea market, the shoes are from an online store.