My remaining time back in Finland was a whirlwind tour of how many times I could hang out with my friends and still do all of the things I meant to do in Helsinki before I left. I accomplished this by sleeping very little and planning several evenings out despite a decently busy work schedule and a huge to do list.
Needless to say it went very well...well, at least all of the things I planned. The to do list kind of took a dive, but well...that's what happens sometimes. And that's just the way life goes. Priorities.
I did things like cook my closest girlfriends a homemade several course meal, went out for several rounds of drinks and dinner, went clubbing (to our usual haunts like Adams and Cuba...there will be a separate post about this), did one last trade at Arkadia (which was heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time), and made a few final scrimshaws as gifts.
It was a quick two and a half weeks. But no rest for the weary and determined. And determined is what I was.
Despite the efficiency of my time usage though, before I knew it my farewell party was upon me. I'd arranged for it to be at Teerenpeli. First, there are few places in Helsinki that can accommodate up to 30 people at once and still be hip (this is a true statement, as unfortunately we found out at another one of our friend's farewell parties). Second, it just seemed appropriate. End things where it all began and I met my first group of good friends. And hell, the drinks there have always been awesome and it's centrally located.
And so I had it there, where it all began. And it was wonderful.
Because I'd been traveling so much for the past several months (remember, no more than 5 consecutive days at a time in Finland since early November...this is a sad and somewhat in hindsight, regrettable fact), I'd actually not seen most of my outer group of friends for much longer than that. Much to my surprise and delight, when I announced that I was going, quite many of them came out to see me go. Some of them had no idea that I was leaving, while others had heard the rumors several months before. Such is the way of the gossip mill, and well, it was true.
It was wonderful to see everyone. As I was making the invite it was incredible to see how many great people I'd met in less than 11 months since I'd moved to Finland. And it was hard to believe that by the end I still wouldn't have made it to 11 months. 11 months. Not even a full year.
And yet in that time I still managed to make close to 60 friends and acquaintances. People I actually enjoy speaking to and communicate with on a regular basis. Have connections with. Some of whom, I believe, I'll have lifelong friendships with.
Just goes to show, you never know what will happen in the span of a very small amount of time.
Anyway, about half of the people I'd met in those 11 months came out to say goodbye. A fourth couldn't make it (out of the country mostly, just as I'd been) and the rest, well...hey, can't be connected to everyone in that way. :)
We went over all of the memories we'd made and the current comings and goings. Chinese Canadian E was going on about how he's dating three women from his office and how he's afraid Finnish women only want him because they want babies. Australian H was telling us how he made his newest recruit (who he hopes to replace himself with, one day in the near future) go through hell during the interview in order to make sure he could deal with fire under pressure. German K cried but then collected herself. Finnish Irish T spoke about a football injury she'd suffered earlier in the day and how she'd set her move date as well. J and O talked of weekends in Amsterdam and how we all needed to plan one, and soon.
All of the wonderful people I'd met, all of us, living our lives. And continuing.
It was also funny to note, especially while I was making the invitation to the event, of the people who had already moved on. Americans J and M, Indonesian F, German L, Gene, Singaporean D.
And those who would soon be leaving: me, Finnish Irish T, Hungarian Z (with any luck), German K.
I guess that's the thing about world-traveling expat groups. You meet some incredible people, and they're all over the place. Constantly shifting in an ever-moving web of adventure.
I'm looking forward to meeting my next group. See you on the other side, future friends. And thank you so much for everything, current and past friends. :)