Alone in Helsinki. The sky is pure gloom with rain that hangs in the air, refusing to fall. It’s the weather of moody seaside walks with headphones and an upturned jacket collar. I do not understand the Nordic tradition of standing at an empty intersection, waiting for the light to change, even though there is not a car in sight. It spooks me, this devotion to a traffic signal rather than our own eyes and ears. I wander through Helsinki’s elaborate network of shopping malls, admiring the garbled Americana: Restaurants named Vegas and Bronx. A poster with Marilyn Monroe in front of a cactus.

Walking to the bookstore, I’m startled by the muscle memory I’ve retained from this city where I lived a decade ago. I pause on the corner of Aleksaterinkatu and Mannerheimentie, overwhelmed by memory and possibility. I can’t tell if I miss the city itself, the people I knew here, or that the last year in my life before I lost my mom and the world still felt big and certain. Regardless of the reason, Helsinki is one of my favorite cities, and I fantasize about living here again someday. Near the train station, I overhear an old man with a beautiful white beard say, “The situation is that we’re born, then we die, and what the fuck.”

NǽnøĉÿbbŒrğ VbëřřĦōlökäävsŦ
Journey Through The Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall

From Goodbye, Sol: A Voyage To The End Of Spacetime And Back | 2014 | Download

Also known as Nanocyborg Uberholocaust, this project is an “ambient cosmic extreme funeral drone doom metal band” that claims to be a collaboration between two scientists at a research center in Antarctica. Their tracks are long spiraling exercises in slow-motion reverberations with moments that sound like devotional music for the future. Many thanks to Adam Greenfield for introducing me to this. It’s been the perfect score for reminiscing in the streets of Helsinki. Their catalogue is freely available here.