Monday, 5 August 2013
The city was our umbrella
Our first day in Helsinki was a clattering of thunderstorms on blue skies. Storms that I have missed since moving to Scotland and storms that left us stranded in the big art nouveau train station there, watching the city disappear underwater.
Sometimes as we wandered, we'd hear armies of rain marching towards us from down a side street, or a sudden feeling of doom would seize us, and with it the electric knowing that we only had seconds to scramble to the next cavernous old doorway to hide and to wait. And what began as a stroll in the sun turned frantic as we ran from entrance-way to entrance-way in the moments between cloud bursts. Sometimes we made it to the same doorway together, sometimes we could only peek out at each other from down the street.
A family passed us by. They had all taken off their shoes and were wandering the streets together soaked through and with the rain streaming down their bodies. Down by the harbour, a man and woman ran across the street to join us in a particularly nice doorway, but our lack of Finnish made for poor conversation, unfortunately.
Our small journey across the city could be measured in doorways and the density of the raindrop print of our clothes. Miraculously, we stayed mostly dry and by the time the evening began to wear on, the storms exhausted themselves and moved away, leaving us to trace the sea edge and then wind through streets where girls laughed and fell over.
And other than that first day, the sun smiled on us for the next few weeks. Sometimes all night long.