We left Finland with nearly twenty pounds of Finnish chocolate (and licorice and other candy), jewelry with the Finnish gemstone Spectrolite for me and the girls, cool Finnish knives for Rob and our son, and a boatload of memories.
I don't think there's ever been a period in my life where I've used the words, "I remember . . ." so many times in such a short span. They popped out constantly. It could be something as simple as driving along the highway and something sparking a memory, eating a familiar food I haven't tasted in two decades, or smelling a building or hearing a sound.
At times, I felt like the character Chuck from the TV show when he gets flashes of images and information firing in rapid succession from the intersect embedded in his brain. (That link is a montage of his "flashes." Ignore the obnoxious music.) For Chuck, the trigger for a flash is seeing the face of a bad guy or significant object.
During our trip, anything familiar sent off a flash of events and memories I'd often forgotten about, one firing after the other. It got emotional and overwhelming, but at the same time, it was wonderful to have so much come back like that.
Even the scents of the outdoors felt right. At first, I wished we could have come in the summer when it's warmer, but after a while, I was glad we were there as fall began to settle over the country. Not only was it more beautiful with the changing leaves and the pihlaja trees heavy-laden with their bright red berries, but the rain and cool air released scents I'd almost forgotten about: the fresh forest smells, the mist in the air, the tang of the wind coming off the salty water in the harbor.
In the end, I would have loved to stay longer, but we hit all the major locations on my priority list, ate all the important things and visited all the critical places, so I can be content. Some places aren't recorded in photos, like the mall (featured prominently in my book), our Finnish lunch at IKEA, and a few other things, but reading this blog gives a very good overview of what we did while there.
The time spent with my parents was precious. I'll treasure their generosity, all they did for me and Rob during our stay, and all the hours we spent together.
In the end, I felt that at last I was able to take a visit "home."
I wonder if I'll ever go back again.