It’s no secret, I’ve always loved Finland. Ever since Mr. Winter read us tales from Kalevala (presented to us as tales of the forest) in second grade, I was hooked. When I read an ad by a Finnish girl in Smash Hits when I was fourteen, I immediately wrote her. I wanted to go Finnish and Hungarian for my first degree, but the times overlapped, and Hungarian was more pressing. Idling around at an associate’s place in college, it was the Finnish video that caught my eye for my story, that was after developing an interest in The Leningrad Cowboys following their Red Army Choir Nokia commercial (I have a pretty dark sense of humor). The following year one of the two Finnish girls in my class and I became pretty tight. So, it’s fair to say that a) I’ve always liked Finland, and b) the country has – in one way or another – always been in my life.
In terms of music, there was of course Sibelius. I played the violin after all. Though I’ve always liked classical music. My musical education Re. Finnish music only really started when I actually got there. My oldest friend took pity on me when I kept shrugging or giving him a blank stare, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. All my close friends were somehow responsible for furthering my education in Finnish music. Which is the reason I know and like acts such as Underwater Sleeping Society, Rauli Badding, Somerjoki, Musta Paraati, Honey B & the T-Bones, and other rare gems.
In typical me-fashion I had a really great conversation with the bass player of the last band, without realizing who he was. My oldest friend was sitting there the entire time, incredibly drunk, but still alert enough to catch the joke and disperse the tip that my conversation partner was “the best bass player in Finland.” I only found out months later when I took my mom to see them, and he was right there on the stage. What made it all even funnier was that a few years earlier I’d spoken to the bass player of another pretty known band, and only realized much later who he was. And when I say later, I mean months, on April 1. Part of the reason I love irony so much is that I always manage to pull something like that off. Best April Fool’s ever.
Which still doesn’t beat the time I sat behind a very well-known musician in a restaurant once. We even had eye contact, because he’d mistakenly hung his coat over my chair. Which was fine. Except his picture was hanging right there on the wall, directly in my line of vision every time I looked up, which happened a lot. It wasn’t until someone at his table made a crack, that implied he was in the picture, that I realized, and had to run outside for a smoke because I was laughing so hard. All this time I’d assumed he was the singer of the band, when really he was a musician. At least I got the band right.
You’d think I’d have learned from that. Fast forward a few years, and I’m in the same spot, really craving a smoke but without a light. There were no matches to be had from the bar either. So I did what any self-respecting smoker would do. I decided to chance it and grab the first person I happened upon outside. Almost as if the heavens had heard my plea I spotted a guy right by the door. He looked friendly enough, so I asked. He replied with, “of course,” and I thanked him. And between those two words of thank and you, I realized who he was. The guy whose photo had been in my line of vision while I’d been trying to write. He caught it, too, my look of recognition, and tried not to smile. We didn’t say a word.
So keeping all that in mind, is it any surprise that Darude’s Sandstorm would connect to my life? I was showing it to a friend to point out something technical, and suddenly something very familiar showed up.
“Hold on,” I told my friend, “stop.”
He paused the video.
“Go back,” I told him, then told him where to stop. Sure enough there it was, the building I’d lived in for eight consecutive years. Longer than I’ve ever lived in any place for any consecutive time. I was too surprised to do anything but stare. And tell my friend.
Granted, I moved there eight years after the video was made, and the owner never pointed it out, but still. What are the odds?
Photo adapted from video.