I’ve gotten really homesick lately. It’s really weird because ever since I was young, the only thing I wanted to do was leave, and now I am getting these strong urges to return to my “home.”
I hated Finland in my teens, especially after I returned from my exchange year in high school. I come from a small town where every knows everyone, it’s super middle class yet I’d say everyone knows someone who’s an alcoholic, or who killed themselves, or who has mental health issues. That’s Finland for you, very developed, equal, high standards of living, but people are still not happy. Everyone is miserable, I used to think. Pessimistic people, they are.
People knew my dad was a pedophile. I found out years later, but I have vague memories of being bullied at school about the fact that he touches little girls.
No one did anything.
As long as their kid was okay, it’s all that mattered. No one cared about me. Absolutely no one.
My mother stayed with my father because of us I guess, and also because of the social stigma that a divorce would cause. I still hate her for it.
Yet somehow, now that I am becoming a parent, I have started reminiscing and really missing the place that really is a home for me. I tried to deny it for years, at one point I even actually started passing for black (yes, like that lady in Iowa or Idaho or wherever she is) because I didn’t want to be Finnish, I didn’t even want to be white!
I have idolized other countries, other cultures, other ways of doing things for the past 15 years and it’s just dawned on me that I do have a cultural identity of my own, it was given to me in childhood because I did grow up in small-town Finland wearing Adidas tracksuits and listening to Backstreet Boys on a walkman.
I have a hard time placing myself anywhere in the world for the reasons that I don’t remember much from before I turned 10 (after my mom left my dad and took us with her), and also because I’ve so actively tried to be something else.
You could drop me anywhere in the world and I would be able to find my way, and have a conversation with the locals. I have friends from all over the world, but I do have my prejudices because honestly ugh some people from some cultures….ugggggh. Just being honest here.
But I have recently realized how Finnish I am, just through my values and thoughts I guess. I keep going on about the horrid state of the healthcare system and how unfair it is, and most Americans are like yeah it’s a bit shit but hey ho, whereas I’m like whaaaat??? How have we not staged a rebellion yet when millions are in medical debt and people suffer because their basic needs are not being met.
And that’s when I realize how Finnish I am. Finns believe in the communal and the community before the individual (maybe I’m romanticizing it a bit but in general) and many don’t mind paying taxes because they get so much in return. Yet they do freaking complain and get depressed and bitch about everything, ugh those damn bastards.
To take away “student money”, an automatic sum of money dropping into your account every month for free just because you’re a student (in free higher education) and can’t live without funds, would be like killing your mother – no one would ever even suggest it!
Public healthcare, free universities, lots of foreign aid paid to the UN and other agencies, year-long paid maternity leaves, the whole of July off paid…People get stuff for the taxes they pay. And now I think why I’m so gung ho about maternity and employee benefits – I come from a culture where that’s the norm, not exception.
I have lived in three other countries, notably in Britain for 10 years, and while I loved it to a certain extent, I remember complaining about a lot of things. And I also hated Finland growing up. And when I lived in Uganda, oh don’t even get me started, they do have some issues….I worry I’ll never be happy anywhere because I keep COMPARING every little thing to what’s better somewhere else, and somehow that stops me from loving my new countries.
In England it was all the lazy people who sit at home collecting benefits and popping out babies while us hard-working people pay for it. In Finland it was that it’s so homogenous and small and people are judgmental and everyone is the same and they still have racist people there (this is freaking 2015 oh come on…). Oh and the taxes are high. Hiiiigh. I think. I actually have no idea, but I just have this idea that taxes are high in Europe. LOL. I can’t remember what I paid in England to be honest.
I’m digressing. But anyway. I miss home home. Not the people or individuals, I have no friends there, but I miss the nature, the communal values, the respect for people and their efforts as workers.
I miss horses and horse riding in the summer. I miss the lakes, bike rides, the summer smells of fresh tree leaves in the warm summer breeze. I miss sauna, licorice, small fresh potatoes from the garden. I miss the food.
I miss the fact that I once had a family, I have a mother and I have a brother. I’ve pretty much cut my ties to them, they don’t even know I’m pregnant. I don’t speak my language, I have no friends there, no one from my extended family even knows where I am in the world.
Yet I wish I’d never left. Yeah there is some value to seeing the world, but I swear to God, if I could turn back the time and be 17 again and feel at home, feel loved by my family, have a family, have a plan and have a future, I would have never left. I probably would have gone to university, started a career, could travel abroad once or twice a year and live in the capital, own a condo and a dog, have married a Finnish guy and would be living the Ikea life.
But instead I detached myself and flew away thinking I could be someone else, and now I live in a small apartment in Miami, I’m up at 1am because I can’t sleep. I have been crying for some time, I feel alone, I feel lost, I feel lonely and sad, and I feel that what I’d want to offer my child is belonging. I want him/her know where they come from! Even though this society will see them as black, I know that half of who they are is deeply embedded in that granite ground of Eastern Finland.
We had this fight today with my husband M about the last names. I want a hyphenated last name and he says the child should automatically have his name. I feel hurt. I feel like I’ve already given up absolutely everything of my own self, my heritage, my roots, and the last name is the only thing I have left, and I want to pass that on.
He says no. That my brother has two kids already who have his and my last name, and that he’s the only one in his family who’s had kids. But he’s got two brothers and they can pass the name on! I really don’t care, this is really important for me, but M got so mad he said if he’d known how I feel he’d never had wanted to have a child with me.
It hurts. It’s not like he even actively wanted this child. We barely ever sleep with each other, and I was doing it only to make a child, for no other reason, so now we don’t even have to try or pretend we like it.
I feel like running away again. I often do. I fantasize about running away with the baby back to Finland and raising them as a little mixed-race Finnish kid in small-town Finland where she/he could play outside day and night and have no fears or worries for safety.
I have no idea what I’ll do to be honest. I’m really fed up with shit. Just applied for a job in Finland, I mean why not, it’s past midnight and I won’t be sleeping so what else could I do other than try to stay strong and attempt to do something better with my future?
I do like the US too. I wish I could feel more at home here, but I think now at 31 it really is hitting me that I never left for the right reasons, and my youth has come to haunt me. My homeland is calling my name, and the name of my unborn child, with its promises of democratic socialism and safety net for all.
Also, with it would come the realization that I’d have to step back into who I once was – a small-town girl from a not-so-nice family. I’d have to live in a society where people are becoming more and more materialistic and they might not value my foreign education and I’d have to start from the bottom once again. I’d have to pay high taxes and endure the freezing cold arctic winters and forget about small talk and such pleasantries – people are distant, to the point, formal. The Finns lack American laughter, ability to be friendly and talk shit without a real purpose, they can’t say I love you or be close to other human beings. Oh, unless they’re drunk on that vodka.
Ugh I hate Finnish men. Really, I do.
I love how America is kind of like, whatever goes. People start the craziest businesses and succeed. A black man can become the president. Here you can wiggle your way into anything if you try hard enough (ehhhhm I take that back, should have said it with some reservation). The weather is beautiful in Miami and the American people are resilient, hard working as fuck, they are proud of their country and who they are as a people, and they do all have strong opinions on the politics and religion and right and wrong and it keeps the media busy and people entertained.
I admire what has come of this piece of land in such a short period of time since the persecuted Europeans first stepped on its shores.
Oh shit I should try sleep. Whoa this was an essay and a half! Just jotting my rambling thoughts down….