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(Subject: Travel stories III: Edinburgh continued (some light reading for you for the rainy days...)) X)It always rains. I read in the papers that this June was the rainiest here for decades - but I can't really say I was surprised; I seem to bring the rain with me. The October I lived here was also the wettest in Scotland for more than 30 years... On the other hand, during the twelve months I lived here, I also experienced the hottest day in the UK ever since the records began. Anyway, it always rains, but I don't mind one bit. (If you are to love somebody, or some place, you'll have to accept his/her/its little defects...right?) I don't have an umbrella, and I don't intend to buy one - if I managed a whole year here without an umbrella (or, actually, in the end I bought one, but lost it almost instantly), I'll do fine for a couple of months without one. So I've decided. And there's no point in hating the rain. Honestly, it's just wonderful to cycle home in the middle of the night, listening to that very best song on your walkman ("look up the stars, look how they shine for you"), the rain pouring down on you. Besides, it never rains for long. Just like the sunshine, the rain never lasts long, and it doesn't take more than a few minutes for the wheather to change. So, when I opened the curtains on the morning of my birthday, I was delighted to see greyness and rain; usually that almost definitely means we're going to get sunshine later that day. Not so that day, though - the rain went on for the whole day and the whole night, and I had to cancel the picnic I was supposed to have in the Meadows. (I had invited everybody I knew and told them I would be serving typical Finnish food.) Instead I brought the cake I had made to the ForestCafe, and offered it to everyone sitting in the same room, and the people were really nice, and it turned out to be a good birthday after all. XI)People keep asking me why I came back to Edinburgh, and I can only give them some vague answers. The thing is, I don't know. I didn't have any good reasons for coming here. But I do have many good reasons for being here. You know, the modern way of travelling isn't really travelling anymore. It doesn't involve g o i n g from place A to place B - it's being in place A and then suddenly being in place B. Aeroplanes don't give the real feeling of travelling. And I, too, said goodbye to Spain one evening, jumped on a plane, and the same night I was in Scotland - some thousand miles away, in a different world - tired, scared and expectant. For a couple of days I then walked down the streets of Edinburgh, getting happier about everything I saw, getting happier about the very fact that I didn't, not even once, feel like asking myself: "And what did you come back here for?" Everything was like I remembered it to be. Some shops were new, the horror tours had new advert boards on the Royal Mile, and the buses had raised their ticket prices, but apart from that, everything was like it used to be, as well as it used to be. And now, when I'm used to living in here again, I really feel at home. Of all the cities and towns in the world, Edinburgh is the one I know best, but it's more than that; this is also the place which feels most like home to me. I don't really feel I belong to any place, and I'm able to feel at home whereever I lay my sleeping bag, but somehow Edinburgh feels like the best place for me to be at the moment. Despite the rain, despite the fact that I don't understand what people say, despite the tendency here to organise simple things in a complicated way (how on earth can opening a bank account take four weeks, and several visits to the bank? Some things just drive me mad here), despite so many things. How bizarre. But even if Edinburgh is like I remember it and feels like home, of course it's not the same Edinburgh it was last year. It's not the Edinburgh where I always meet my friends at a bench dedicated to J. Lennon, almost every time at one o'clock. It's not the Edinburgh where I, confused but excited like a child, discover things utterly new to me so often it leaves me dizzy. It's not the Edinburgh where I start growing melancholy already on Saturday only because I have to work again on Monday. It's not the Edinburgh which gives me the feeling that I want to break off with everything in the past, to start from the beginning, and where I find myself wearily thinking of returning to Finland. And so forth... Of course it's me that's changed. I wouldn't recognise myself of 2002 if I were to meet her now. I don't always recognise myself even now. XII)People have gone. And come back. And gone again. And come back. And so on and on. Edinburgh, and the Forest as the core of it, is a place where people change all the time, and nobody is really from here. There were only a couple of people left whom I knew from last year when I came this summer, and none of my very good friends. (Strangely enough, there were some people here whom I didn't know but who knew me, though... Do you know how weird it feels when you introduce yourself to someone you've never met before and they start telling you things about you, like, "oh yeah, Tuulia, you're from Finland aren't you, I think you're studying in Turku...?") That didn't bother me, I was expecting that anyway, and I got to know some lovely people in June - and now they've left too! It's not fair. Of course there are always people to talk to and new friends to make at the Forest, but sometimes, especially on bad days at work, when my bosses are giving me a hard time, letting me understand I'm useless and deducting money from my wages no matter how hard I work - then I would need a good friend to give me a hug and say: "What they say is nothing to lose your sleep for, your bosses are not gods, they sometimes make mistakes in their opinions and judgements just like you do, maybe they just had a bad day, maybe they're just downright stupid - in any case, you should first believe in what you yourself think about yourself, and then listen to what they have to say, if it sounds worth listening." Mmmm. XIII)The socio-linguistic (or perhaps psycho-linguistic) problem I've been contemplating for the last weeks is this: Why is it that I find it much easier to say "I'm really sorry - I never meant to hurt you" in English than in Finnish? Or is it just that I, for some reason, do and say more things that need apologising for when I'm abroad or with foreign people? My initial thought was that if the answer lies in one of these two, I hope it is that I always do things I regret, regardless of the corner of the world I'm in, but just somehow uttering the words in English is easier. But on second thoughts, would it not be better to know that I am able to say I'm sorry, regardless of the language? And if I am not, why is this so? Because I have heard more "sorry"s than I've heard "anteeksi"s in my life, on TV for instance? Well, it's probably true that I have, but it sounds like too simple an answer. So what do you say, all linguists and non-linguists out there? Are you following me at all? XIV)The simply psychologic dilemma of the month: lying. Altering the truth. The thing is, being able to lie is almost compulsory in my work - how would I be able to keep my job if I started telling the customers that the pies actually taste horrible, that our soup is made of powder and I wouldn't even call it food, or that we sometimes use sandwich fillings that have passed their best before end date? No, that just wouldn't do. So I lie. Instead of going on about meat being a murder, I smile and tell everybody that our pepper steak pie is absolutely delicious. What's horrible in it is that I have got so accustomed to it that keeping to the truth has become more difficult than before, even in my private life. Now I know what it is like being a liar; you just don't notice when you lie. God, need to get out of here. This job pays my ways but it definitely corrodes my soul, as the song goes... XV)A strange thing happened to me the other day. It was a Monday night and I was at the Meadows, like every Monday night, playing with fire with all the other fire swingers. Then, when we had run out of paraffin and most people had already gone home, and I was just standing there, talking to some people I had met that evening, I suddenly saw a familiar face a bit further away. The face belonged to a pretty girl who was talking to a group of (other) Spaniards, and I knew immediately who she was. But I didn't believe it could really be her, I didn't believe myself for a second. Presently she came to talk to me. She didn't recognize me, or at least she hid it well - instead she said she had seen me doing the poi, and suggested we could teach each other some tricks. It was a weird situation; as if meeting someone for the first time twice. But I still couldn't believe she was the one I thought she was, so I didn't say anything. I was exhausted and had already packed my things to go home, but I agreed to swing the poi with her - anyway, if there for once was someone who herself initiated to teach me some new things, I couldn't miss the chance. So we played for a while, but I didn't really enjoy it. When we stopped, she finally told me she thought she knew me from somewhere. I told her that I, too, was sure I had seen her somewhere before, and we started listing the places where we might have met. When she said, "you haven't been to Spain lately by any chance, have you?" I knew I had got it right right from the beginning after all. Indeed she was Leonor, the girlfriend of the flatmate of the friend of mine I visited in Granada. I had only seen her once, on the night I had arrived in that flat, for a couple of hours, and I only remembered a few things about her, like her face, and how good her English was, and somethings else. And now she was here. You might not find this interesting or odd at all. But the improbability of our meeting left me thoughtful for a long time. For it was proof of one small truth in life, something that makes it worth living; that it's very probable that improbable things happen all the time. XVI)I work too much. I work six days a week, and the day I have off I usely spend working at the Forest (this is a long mail already, and most of you know anyway, so I won't get into talking about what the Forest is all about... I'll just quote the Forest web page, www.theforest.org.uk/who.php: "theForest is a self-funding, not-for-profit arts café and exhibition space, run and staffed by a collective of volunteers". There you go. Come and see for yourselves) so I don't have too much free time, and when I have, it goes to playing the xylophone and doing the fire and dancing and juggling and partying and it's great but man, I'm constantly tired. At times I'm so exhausted I just go home after work and go to bed, but it doesn't help. I know I do too much. But there are just so many things to do, and so little time... XVII)The Fringe Festival is on, the Film Festival is on, the Book Festival is on, the Edinburgh International Festival is on, the Military Tattoo is on, they're all in full swing, the Forest is in full swing, the population of the city will probably double soon, it's positively crazy. And I've found another thing I like about the Pie Maker (apart from the logo): because I work there, I can get free tickets to many of the shows that will be on for the next three weeks. This is an invitation: come here, the flights are cheap, you're only young once and blah blah blah, anyway, you wouldn't be disappointed, come here. Yours overworked overexcited overexploited overconfused -T/K. PS Sorry about the English. I really don't know which language I should be writing in. I've been reading in Swedish, writing in Finnish, speaking Spanish to Spaniards in Spain, German to Germans here and English to everybody everywhere. No wonder if I can't speak any language properly now. But still, English is always the easiest choice when you want to reach many people...
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