Perjantai 22.3.2019
Älä muista nuoruuteni syntejä, älä pahoja tekojani! Sinä, joka olet uskollinen ja hyvä, älä unohda minua! Ps. 25:7

Blog: Birthplace of love

in English 8.11.2018 06:57 | Päivämies-verkkolehti
One drawback in being retired is that we no longer have vacations. My wife and I recently visited Sweden on a simulated vacation. It actually felt like a real vacation, especially since we were quite tired afterwards. 
Sweden is a special place for us, and its capital Stockholm is particularly special. We fell in love there.

After my freshman year in 1974, my uncle had helped me find a summer job in a pneumatic-hydraulic factory in Älvsjö, one of Stockholm’s southern suburbs.

I was working abroad and had to pay my taxes. I therefore had to visit Skattehus, the tax office. My attention was drawn to a group of Finnish girls who were there on the same errand.

I did not have a girlfriend at that time, but things began to happen soon.

When I went to local services, I met other Finnish young people with summer jobs in Stockholm. As it happened, I also came across the ”Skattehus girls”, three sisters from Oulu and one from Lappeenranta. We soon began to feel ourselves well integrated in Stockholm, or actually poorly integrated, because we began to spend our leisure time together. Luckily, there were hardly any Finns at my workplace, so I had to speak Swedish at least there. 

Stockholm made an impression on me. It seemed the tunnelbana trains could take you anywhere. We felt we were in a big city.

I lived in Älvsjö with my cousin. We were once again going to see the Skattehus girls, who lived in Ungdomshemmet dorms in Södermalm. I knew one of the girls had a nameday that day, and thought it would be proper to celebrate that in some way. I persuaded my cousin that we should buy flowers.

It turned out that the Södermalm girls were in no special mood to celebrate the nameday. Our bunch of flowers probably turned into a more serious message than intended. My subconscious may also have played a role. 

While hanging out with the girls that summer, I began to seek the company of the girl who was given the nameday flowers. We found ourselves walking side by side. Later on we even explored the city on our own. We felt we were good pals. 

When it was time to return to Finland, I called home and told my mom where we would be arriving and when. ”Who is we?” my mom asked. 

During the following winter I seriously pondered about our relationship. Was that real love? Her mother mentioned at some point that if we thought we would need a church the following summer, it would be good to book it in good time. Somehow it seemed good and proper to continue.

The following spring we got married in Oulu Cathedral.

We had been courting for less than a year, with her living in Helsinki and me living in Turku. We did not know each other very well. Maybe people only get to know each other well when they start a family. Like most young couples, we believed we were especially suited to each other. We had children. Life was not always easy, but our common foundation has supported us until this day. How can it be that two random acquaintances find so many things in common?
It must be Providence. 

After 43 years together, we visited Sweden again. We went to the Örebro region, Uppsala, and Sigtuna, where we visited some historical sights that we both found interesting. 

We started from and returned to Stockholm, the city of our love. We stopped there only briefly. We mostly just explored Stockholm’s huge underground road network, getting lost while leaving the city and also when returning to our last night’s lodging.  

One day we might visit again the places that we remember from decades ago. We already saw Sergels torg once since our first stay in Stockholm. It looked pretty much the same it did in the old days. But there was no Maria singing spiritual songs and accompanying herself on a harmonium like all those years ago. 

Sweden is a good country. You can even find a wife there.
Text: Heikki Honkala
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen

You will find the original Finnish blog post here.

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