December 1, 2018
I had a dull ache in my back, probably because I sleep on a flat, sad mattress I dragged up from my apartment building’s communal lobby that doubles as a drop-off point for unwanted and unidentifiable household items.
I’d hauled my mattress to my third floor room like a treasure about two months ago. Then I received an email which said that blocks A and B had reported a few cases of bed bugs. I live in block C. I had found my mattress close-ish to the C block’s part of the lobby. After checking my skin obsessively for red dots, I concluded that my mattress was probably fine.
In Finland during the winter, the sun doesn’t rise until about 9:30 a.m., and it sets around 3:30 p.m. I checked the weather on my phone to select an outfit, and wasn’t surprised that it was cold again. I took comfort in the same lumpy but casually glamorous ensemble I wear every day: a shiny, emerald green puffer coat with a black faux fur collar (thrifted – €14.00), an oversized navy scarf (thrifted – €3.00), and a bright red beanie (thrifted – €4.00).
I scrolled through one sleep’s worth of missed notifications from my cousin’s bridal party group message. The upcoming bachelorette party will be in the U.S. in Georgia, and I tend to miss a lot of the juicy planning details and quarrels due to the 8-hour time difference.
This time, I had missed an argument about yurts vs. cabins. I wasn’t entirely sure what all yurt camping entailed, but apparently there wasn’t enough chairs in the yurt so it is ABSOLUTELY OUT OF THE QUESTION.
I had just one task for the day, which was to check on my table of items at the flea market. I crunched through the snow to get to my bus stop and prepare for the 30-minute ride into the city center. I inspected each step for traces of dog poo, which tends to hide under the ice. (I had once not noticed and then tracked poo onto a bus and into the bar where I was meeting a date; we did not go out again).
It’s important to arrive at the flea market (kirpputori) early on the weekends. I joined the older folks in line ten minutes before it opened. The door clicked and most of them headed straight to the corner of the store with a couple of tables and chairs and a folded-open newspaper. There’s coffee and pulla — traditional cardamom buns — available for purchase, like at most Finnish businesses. It’s one of my favorite smells in the world.
I headed to the basement to tend to my table of items. I have a habit of buying second-hand clothes that look fun and kooky but are actually just unwearable and bad. I was reminded of this as I folded a pair of 70’s red plaid flared pants: for sale, €7.00.
Shoppers politely passed by me, stopping to see what was on my table before they moved on. I shifted out of the way as a woman eyed my green puffer coat with a pink faux fur lining on the hood (€12.00). The coat always makes me think of that picture from 2002 of Cam’ron in his pink fur coat that matches his hat that matches his phone. The woman did not buy the coat.
I left the store and took a short walk to the public library. I often can’t tell if I’m walking too fast, or not fast enough or if my strides are too wide, or too short. Nobody notices or cares! While alternating somewhere between stumbles and lunges, I fiddled with my oversized navy scarf (€3.00) and accidentally wrapped it a bit too tight. I lost my balance and dry heaved a couple times.
I entered the library in one piece. There was coffee and pulla on the second floor, next to the newspaper and magazine reading room. I took the stairs up to the music room and listened to a couple CDs on the library’s CD player: The Idler Wheel… by Fiona Apple and a collection of My Bloody Valentine EPs from 1988-1991. Finnish libraries are a gift.
When I’m in the city center, I have a couple bus lines to choose between for my journey home. The 3 line is faster, but I’ve grown to dislike the ride:half it zips through the main street that I have now memorized and the other half is highway. The 5 line is slower, but it journeys through a charming but strange ultra-modern suburb. I didn’t have anything pressing to get home to, so I decided to Choose My Own Adventure and go with the 5.
I shut my eyes and zoned out for the first few minutes of the ride, which goes through a brief stretch of highway before passing an Ikea. After the Ikea it gets interesting. I took some notes on the buildings I passed and the things I did or didn’t like about them.
● Apartment building with silhouettes of people with wings (?) cut onto metal sheets that are fixed to the side of the wall. Are the metal winged people supposed to depict the inhabitants of the building? Is it social commentary?
● Very tall, very menacing apartment building in the distance with a massive black circle on the side. Absolutely terrifying.
● Grass, birds, and rabbits painted onto the side of a daycare. I can get behind that.
I arrived home and passed by a tea kettle up for grabs in the lobby. I ate some tomato soup for dinner. I watched a couple episodes of Detroiters in bed before dozing off. At 12:57 a.m., I woke up and checked my skin for red dots.