I was curious to know what would come out of my pen when I wrote my last “Hello Dear Friend, I love today” letter in Oulu. It was simple, it was everything that felt true, it was this:
Hello Dear Friend, I love today. I love today because it is both an ending and a beginning.
It has been a little over a month since I arrived in Finland, and what a hell of a month it has been! Part 1 of my journey was far more than I ever expected or hoped for. I set out to accomplish it all in the same spirit of spontaneity as Petronella, and looking back on my adventures, I think I succeeded. The first part of my journey officially ended when I left Oulu in the back seat of a car belonging to a delightful family I met, headed north to the Hotel Pohjanhovi.
The second part of Petronella’s journey was spent exploring Lapland and living and working with the gold miners in Lemmenjoki National Park. Tomorrow morning, I will wake up at 6am. I can’t really say where or when I am going, but it involves a 6-hour bus ride, catching a mail taxi that will supposedly be waiting at a grocery store, taking a boat down a river, and then hiking 12km guided by a map and compass to my destination. At the end of this crazy scavenger-hunt-type adventure lies a tiny festival reserved only for gold miners and their families (hence the secrecy), and there I will meet my first friends in Lapland. I cannot contain my excitement.
The next few months will be spent up north visiting some of the places on this (updated!) map, some that aren’t, and some I have yet to discover:
This is what my adventure has been building toward. I am ready to learn what Lapland has to teach me, ready to sit with the people and the different cultures of the north and talk in poor Finnish or slow English or maybe just music and laughter and silence, and have that be enough. I am ready to soak in the mysterious beauty of Lapland, to slow the pace of my life long enough to understand the midnight sun reflecting off the hills and the sound of the reindeer as they walk and the way the leaves come ablaze in the autumn as the nights get longer and the stars return. I am ready to work, to use my body to walk and swim and make things and help. I am ready to be in a place where survival is a bit simpler and where legends still thrive. And through all of this, perhaps I will come to know Petronella. Perhaps I will come to know myself.