As promised I will belatedly post some of my impressions and experiences from my trip to Finland. As my holidays are coming to to an end I have finally had some time to create posts out of the notes I have been taking along the way.

14 July 2013

Once upon a time flying was fun. On my way to my grandmother, watching cotton-candy clouds sail past beneath me. Now flying something I have to endure to go on holidays.

After an endlessly long day of nervous anticipation I step out of the car at the airport. One last look at the silhouettes of my boyfriend and dog as they drive out of the kiss&ride zone, then I turn and enter the airport. The doors swish open and I step into cool fresh air, matched by the shiny space that surrounds me. As I drag my suitcase behind me I regret my packing policy, which is basically to pack everything in order to avoid having to make choices. 

Everything goes smoothly, from check-in to security. I feel smug as I pass through the security gate, which is clear in its silent approval of me. I am unable to resist the temptation of the airport bookstore and end up buying Americanah  by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, although I still have more than 500 pages left of my current read.

The walks in the airport always seem endless, and even if I have left my suitcase behind, my handbag and laptop pull painfully at my shoulders. At gate A58 a message tells me to go instead to gate 54. It is the only setback until now, and a very minor one, I think, as I walk back 100 metres to the new gate. I sit down and begin reading “Part 4: The part about the crimes” in Roberto Bolano’s 2666. I make it through five dead women before boarding begins.

In the plane I am seated next to a woman with a baby of no more than a few months. Her husband and the baby’s older brother are on the other side of the aisle. They are a typical Brussels family. The parents speak English to each other. The mother speaks French to the children, while the father speaks to them in Finnish. I only hear the older son speak French, but he obviously understands Finnish. I also discover that the mother understands some Finnish when she exchanges desperate looks with her husband at a message from the captain. Apparently the airspace above Maastricht is crowded, and our departure has been delayed by half an hour. Then the English message tells us that “the departure is delayed by half – um – no – 10 minutes.” 10 minutes is more accurate and we are airborne in no time.

I read on. The number of dead women rises. Once in a while I lift my head from the pages and watch the family next to me. The older son Arthur who is about 5, is full of energy. At one point he crosses the aisle to strokes his baby brother’s head and says ‘Ce petit bébé est trés mignon’. The mother and father smile at each other and my heart fills with joy for the family. It is obvious how much the parents love their children. The father is constantly laughing at his sons antics, and I wonder if it is usual for parents to be so happy to observe their children even after 5 years. I guess a parents love comes from an unending source.

At then end of the flight I am up to 23 dead women and some desecrated churches. My back is hurting from sitting in the plane and I feel exhausted. I also need to pee but do not dare to get up in case I wake the baby. I look out of the window at the land below. The darkness of the trees is broken by patches of grey sky reflected in lakes. I count 15 lakes in one small window frame. I have arrived in the land of a thousand lakes