Author: Kreetta Onkeli

Big-city blues

30 September 2005 | Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Beige. Eroottinen kesä Helsingissä (‘Beige. An erotic summer in Helsinki’, Sammakko, 2005). Introduction by Tuva Korsström

Helsinki starts – where? Where a country girl will wear white corduroy pants if she’s eight and her pen pal tells her to. Where you’re allowed to jump in at the public swimming pool, and water splashes in your face no matter what you do, and it’s a long way to the bottom, you can’t touch. Unreal. That’s what Helsinki was like. Buildings that you recognized from pictures. A city where pictures were the starting point of your life, not experience. You step into the picture and begin your life. The step takes a long time. An entire youth. The first few days go well. You’re a tourist. The crowd of anonymous, noisy people is relaxed, you feel uninhibited. Nobody pays any attention to you. Then you start to want to feel. To talk. To say hi to somebody. The waiting begins, and there’s nothing you can do to speed it up. You have to live in the city. Ten years and you’re in, maybe, a little. Be there. Stay. You’ll circulate around the triangle formed by Sokos, Stockmann, and Forum department stores. They’re familiar from pictures, you’re wary of the others. The streetcar home. Home and downtown. The city. The lanes. Conduits. Lights. Trams. Taxis. Buses. The first negro. The first stop at a traffic light. The yellow stone building. The colorful cottages at the foot of the bridge. More…