I spent the day returning to scenes from a decade ago, starting with the place I once lived: 33 Uudenmaankatu in the neighborhood of Punavuori. The secondhand bookshop is still on the corner, and the Thai spot with the good tom kha soup is still next door. This street feels frozen in time, much like the city’s stern buildings that remind me of battleships. Whenever I come across Goethe’s maxim that architecture is frozen music, I see Helsinki.

I rewind the events and decisions that took me away from this city. The sudden death of my mother. Returning to Detroit and then New York and then New Orleans. If my mom were still alive, would I know how to roll my R’s and speak passable Finnish? Would I be more sensible if I hadn’t spent the past decade living in America’s sturm und drang? I do not want to become a man who relitigates the past. This is why some of us meditate, and others drink. Doing whatever it takes to stay in the present moment. Strange that this is so hard.

The Caretaker – It’s Just a Burning Memory

From Everywhere at the End of Time | History Always Favours the Winners, 2016 | Bandcamp

A dusty record plays in the other room. Sampling old 78s that decay with each subsequent recording, Leyland Kirby maps the borderlands between nostalgia and despair. Dust motes suspended in sunlight. Old men in libraries. Hushed ballrooms where time has disappeared. It’s the sound of memories blurring before falling apart.