writing every day has been a practice i have latched onto and fallen out of several times in my life.
I've kept a diary since 2005, but some breaks have been almost longer than a a year.
I notice that I can speak about abstract things, moods, feelings and elusive concepts with more ease in my third language now that I'm writing and reflecting on my travels daily.
One of my colleagues with whom we share curatorial work at the Nordic Music Days – the reason of my coming to Glasgow – asked yesterday about how I position myself as a Finn having lived a great bulk of my years in Belgium and elsewhere.
I often (lovingly) retort that I'm now stuck in Finland, having lived there for over 10 years now.
what I really mean is that I have two mouths to feed, and I always get reminded of this condition when I travel through environments familiar to me from my childhood – Brussels, London...
They are environments that have left a mark on me, and they contain cultural capital that is not in a very active state when I spend time in Helsinki.
It's almost like I have two digestive systems, to stomachs, and two mouths feeding into them. The part of me that lives from speaking French and connecting with the ensuing personality that follows from speaking French gets malnourished in Finland.
Likewise I develop a hunger for the ease of being and thinking that comes from being surrounded by and connected to a mother-tongue speaking community, if I'm deprived of it for too long.
But it isn't as simple as it sounds. I feel like i have a bilingual identity, and in a way my French could and would be in a near mother-tongue stage if I would have a more daily connection with it.
I sometimes miss the person I am when I speak French, and I can't seem to bring them out other than in French-speaking communities.
When I travel, it feels as though I slowly and gradually shed my skin when traveling through Swedish and Danish speaking communities – or indeed Estonian speaking – there being something 'close to home' about them. When I enter Germany and especially Belgium, I feel like I enter into a long-distance relationship with myself.
That's when the other mouth starts to feed, and the other metabolism starts its slow squiggling into action. Not always a process free of acids and nausea, but always welcomed and beautiful – fulfilling.
Yesterday after dinner I shared a bowl of rice pudding (or rice porridge in Finnish) with a small heart of cherry jam with a Scottish colleague across the table. The story that went around the table was one of love of porridge, how it tastes different when made with different tap water from different region. The best I have ever tasted was made from the esker-filtered natural spring water that comes out of taps in Lahti.
Turns out both of my mouths eat both porridge and potatoes.