This Saturday, I will be off to the country of no importance. Latvia. A pretty little gem covered with forests, lakes, patchy hills, and cornered by the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga. A country of perpetual rain during the summer, blueish darkness and muddy snow during the winter, and golden colours during the autumn. Oh, and there is the time of romance, spring, with the transition from snow to rain. It can get really nice at times.
Anyway, that's not the point. I will be returning to Latvia and leaving behind two years on almost non-stop hopping-over foreign countries. Yes, I will still visit Finland on occasions of completing my MSc degree. My first visit to Finland will be no later than late January. But this time my stay in Latvia will last for far beyond two weeks, and Riga is where I will mostly be staying before the summer comes and London rescues me. I am scared! Scared of making this backward step to a struggling economy deserted by the young and the smart. Scared of seeing gloomy people without a hint of smile everywhere. I shudder thinking of having to go back. Going back to me is like admitting defeat, like being shot from the ground while soaring up in the skies. Forgive me for being so arrogant. Latvia is a country of no opportunity, and I admire the self-sacrifice of those thousands still committing their lives to it. What would the country do without its heroes?
Riga is rather annoying at times with the way everyone knows everybody else. I was always keeping close to the expat community in Riga, which, believe me, was even smaller and more predictable. In Kalmar, Washington, Frankfurt, Helsinki, and London alike, I continuously found new people to keep my levels of social excitement high. Riga is predictable and boring. It is a very pretty little town, but also entirely irritating after three days. I have good friends in Riga, whom I look forward to meeting, but I also have friends in other places of the world, which I much better prefer. It will be great to see my parents in Riga, but it will be short of great to stay in a tiny little flat with them tracking every movement. I hate being reduced to sixteen years old. I cannot quite recall who wrote this (and avoid thinking it might have been Chernyshevsky - he probably nicked the saying from someone else, anyway), but having tasted freedom makes the thought of the cage even more bitter. Riga is like a cage, and not even a golden one.
I am especially horrified thinking the routine of the place might suck me in. Quiet little country where nothing ever happens, which important people diplomatically ignore, and where politicians indulge themselves day and night. My former school mates are busy getting married, buying flats, touring swarming supermarkets for cider, affording new ties, cooking fancy dinners for hours every night, entertaining thoughts about studies abroad "in some distant future", and simply giving up on life. Why all this? Because there is nothing else to do in Latvia! Why not get married for a change? Let's get the mortgage loan then. Kids while we are repaying the mortgage anyway? Yes, please. Oh, and it is so fun working for a Big-4 auditing firm. Oh, and I can afford a holiday once a year. At weekends, shall we go driving up to the sea? Have a picnic on the coast? Go canoeing, parachuting, wind-surfing? So much to do! Watch the life go by!
No, thank you. If getting married and buying a flat buries a chunk of my young years, then I am postponing both. I loved London for the excitement, energy, dynamics of the place. I love Frankfurt for being near new places and meeting new people every day. I will be content as long as I am not able to predict the tomorrow. If a few months in Riga is what it takes on the way to the new horizons, then let it be. Patience, please.