I never thought it would be a permanent home. I also never thought I would have to leave it so soon.
I’ve lived in my current apartment since December 2013. Usually you’d have to queue for a studio for up to two years, but since my application had been floating when I was in Australia, I had got a bit of a head start and was offered a one-room apartment out of the city after just four months of not-so-glorious roommate life. It was located in a suburb with nothing more than a kindergarden, a small shop and a pub that was never open, and since it hadn’t been renovated properly since the 90s, the apartments weren’t exactly designed after the latest fashion. It was mostly exchange students that lived in the complex since their visit to the city was so brief that they didn’t mind the general shoddy austerity of the place. I heard wild stories about cockfights taking place on the roof of the complex every now and then before I actually moved in and found out that there’s no access to the roof.
However, the rent was one of the cheapest in the city, and it was a five minute walk from a ski slope and a suburban hiking trail. The only bus that ran past the complex was unreliable in timing – it was the line number 13 as a self-fulfilling prophecy – but it took you directly at the doorstep of the biggest shopping mall in the suburb a couple of stops over. Even though my apartment was labelled as a studio, it came with a separate bedroom with a sliding door and a decent balcony. It didn’t take me much getting used to living there; the first night I lay in bed and marvelled at the unpacked cardboard boxes, I felt a tingle of joy.
Last December I was nonchalantly going through my mail when a note from the housing company got my attention. I had to read it a couple of times; surely I would’ve misread it on the first go. But no matter how much reading I did, the message stayed the same. The company was going to renovate the complex and to do so, they were going to have to terminate all rental contracts.
The sinking feeling grabbed me slowly and didn’t leave me for weeks as I tried to go on about my life, feeling like a ton of stones of lead lulling around on the pit of my stomach.
The thing is, it had been years since I had felt at home anywhere. I got restless when I was fifteen, and after that there was no going back; the city where I lived in seemed to grow smaller day by day, the house of my parents infuriatingly familiar. Home was never something I truly yearned for, though, since the sense of adventure had taken over me. I felt like I was living that quote Lisa St. Aubin de Terán: “Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.” I didn’t want to stay anywhere. I couldn’t.
However, when I moved to my current city to chase a degree, I was willing to find an anchor to moor me down for a few years. My studio became a little safe haven that would always greet me with embracing arms after a stressful day, or alternately make my skin crawl with the little noises it made after I’d watched too many horror films again. I was happy to be able to invite friends over, even when they did give me gentle banter about living in the middle of nowhere. The place became so much more than just a temporary space for my belongings: it became home.
Then again, it was my first time living alone. We tend to grow a little sentimental about all our firsts.
I used to look around the apartment at times and feel like a stranger thinking about the time I would have to end my lease one day. It didn’t feel like a real life at all; those were thoughts for another day. Somehow it had become part of my identity that I was living right here, and I always defended my personal heaven with determination against my friends’ banter. I had experienced so much in this apartment that the thought of moving out felt impossible.
My bedroom is almost empty now – I’ve been slowly selling off some of my furniture that I know won’t fit into my new apartment. I’m selling books I used to like when I was fifteen but which I haven’t even thought about in years. I am going through the motions that I thought I’d only do when I’d be permanently moving out of this city. Later today mum and dad will struggle to carry the bulky couch downstairs, and I will follow them with smaller boxes, with my sister demanding to know how she could help. It’s convenient, really. One of my close friends is going on an exchange in the autumn, so after I return from Southeast Asia I will occupy her place where the rest of my property will be waiting for me. Her apartment is a studio as well. The monthly rent is cheaper by ten euros. Maybe it’s not home, but it is a comforting rebound.
And maybe it doesn’t matter. In three days I’ll be in Bangkok, getting the taste of the life that I was meant for.
Well that sob story’s out of the way now. (“Home” seems to be the prevailing theme in the blog this week.)
I am indeed leaving for Southeast Asia in a day, so before I left I just wanted to give you guys a quick rundown of what’s to be expected on the blog over the next two months. (That’s right – I’m going away for eight weeks! Insert the screamy emoji.)
I’m flying to Bangkok on Saturday after a fun night of sleeping at the airport – the Helsinki airport seems to be becoming like a second home to me – and arriving at ridiculously early o’clock on the Sunday morning. After two days in the city I get back on a plane (this time into one that looks like a drag queen duck – yes I feel very safe) to visit the tourist trail in Myanmar for ten days. It’s the peak of the monsoon and I’ll be spending way too many nights on overnight buses… but I am more excited about Myanmar than any other place I’m visiting this summer.
After that stint I return to Bangkok to meet up with Ben and again move on after just two nights, this time to travel through Cambodia to Vietnam. I’m excited about hiking, snorkelling and beach parties. Maybe I’ll learn how to windsurf. I read it somewhere that it’s actually acceptable to wear shorts in most places in Vietnam and that has got me vaguely excited as well.
Now, I am notoriously bad at getting anything done while on a trip. I make these grand plans of all the things I can do on my off-time in the evenings, but after a day of strenuous sightseeing and aggressive sunburns I am more likely to just nest up in a bundle where no one can see me or talk to me and binge-read Reddit horror stories. I promise, though, to get a few posts out while there as well. I’ll keep my Instagram most updated, so if you’re not following me on there already, go ahead and do! I’m sometimes funny there, too. In addition, I have scheduled a couple of posts to keep you busy while I’m getting trampled by elephants or falling victim to a vicious food poisoning. At least a small guide to Tallinn is coming up, as well as a love story.
Now I guess it’s time for you guys to wish me luck and hope that I’ll fail at something miserably because that makes good stories. See you soon!