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10 Helsinginkatu: Chapter 10 10 Helsinginkatu: Chapter 10
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-02-18 09:10:14
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10. Memories with no regrets

Over the next few days I was a bit busy, nothing really serious since I’m free-license in my work and I don’t speak Finnish which means I’m never really busy but I’m fine somehow with it. I suppose after doing a career for nearly fifteen years and sacrificing everything in the name of this career I was enjoying these permanent holidays and I was surprised with myself how easily I had limited my needs in the last few years.

Honestly, for nearly fifteen years I’ve been after money and titles and nowadays I could not understand why I had done it, it just didn't make sense. Well I have learnt a couple of things from this experience, mainly one; it doesn’t matter how much money you make and how high you get it’s never enough and the way I managed to escape from this carousel might sound a bit dramatic but to me it was the natural thing, the natural way of things to happened. At the peak of my career I got ill, actually one day I remember myself in a very serious meeting making a presentation for the next year’s budget and the next thing I remember is being in a bed with wires all around my body and machines beeping constantly.

For the next two weeks the bad news was coming like bullets out of a machine gun in those old gangster films and for a funny reason my brain had just …twisted! I don’t mean I went crazy, even though there are a few who believe so; I just saw things in a different way. I was laying in this hospital bed and the only people that had visited me were my secretary and my assistant and that was because I had to sign some papers. That period my grandmother and my aunt were still alive but I didn’t call them because I didn’t want to make them worry, they had the picture of the strong business man and I wanted them to keep the same picture whatever was going to happen.

The second evening I was awake - at least I was feeling awake - the doctors told me that I had missed two nights and I was lucky I didn’t miss the rest of my life! That somehow made me start thinking. I was really at the peak of my career, the highest I could get, and at a very young age – actually, the next oldest person than me in the company’s director board was ten years my senior. I had a beautiful house in Athens and a cool apartment in Paris, the car I was always dreamt of – I’m not exactly a car-person but I always wanted to have a Porsche 911 from the '70s, you know the two-seater ones with the spoiler on the back – I had a girlfriend who could easily become a fashion model anytime and I had …no bloody life! I mean I was zero, nil, nothing! I was empty of everything.

A few days after when the doctors thought that I was able to feed myself alone I returned to my apartment and I opened my wardrobe to realize that I had some suits I had worn only once or twice in my life and they each cost six month's salary for an average worker in the same company I was working for. I felt sick and I just run to the toilet vomiting everything that had entered my stomach the last fifteen years. In a month I had signed my resignation and started training my replacement. I just wanted to go away.

Back in those days every time I looked at the mirror I felt sick …every single time, I could just not believe what happened to me and how I let it happen. Of course going out of this game in that level is not easy and it took time, nearly three years but after three years I was free. I had sold or given away everything, including my fancy Porsche – actually that was the first thing I did - and my apartment in Paris, I had let my hair get longer, long enough to make a pony-tail and I started painting again! The first time I felt my old brushes in my hand I was in tears, I could not believe that I gave up this feelings for so long, standing in front of the empty canvas and imagining all the things that wanted to come out of this whiteness was all I wanted!

Too many people have asked me all these years how I did it and how I felt and the truth is that I have no idea which is the right answer if there is one. For me it was a sort of awakening and I’m not sure even if that is the right word to describe it and I definitely don’t think it works with others, on the contrary I think the needs of life make most of the people that happened to be in my place to get out of the hospital and return to their job a bit more aware and careful of their body and its needs that they were before.

Anyway, nowadays I have found my old self drawing, painting and writing a lot but most of all thinking and discovering all my old dreams. But because I also need some money to live I do take some projects from time to time and in a very strange way Finland has helped me to keep it low and minimum you see looking for work as a foreigner in Finland who doesn’t speak the language and especially in my age is like looking for the treasure at the end of the rainbow! If you are lucky you might have work for a couple of months a year, but as I said I’m fine with it I have limited my needs and as long I can buy my books and the my colours I’m even happy. Oh yes, a cappuccino is another element that can make my day perfect.

And I have a constant companion and friend for my cappuccino, Marc! Marc is my closest friend in Finland and strangely despite our big age difference we have come very close and that morning Marc and I we were enjoying our favourite cappuccino in our usual café in the local mall near to where we both live. We had our usual heated conversation about music with me as usual teasing him for his music taste. Marc had just made the mistake of expressing a fondness for Madonna, when I saw her and I don’t mean Madonna!  She was there walking just a few meters away to where we were sitting with her red coat and funny red boots, her short blonde hair and a bag that looked bigger than her. It was Leena, my new neighbour!

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