I haven’t been reading much lately. My life is crazy and hectic, and reading hasn’t just been put on the back-burner, it’s been taken off the stove completely.
Not only did I just get back from vacation, but tomorrow is my last day working from the Seattle branch of my company. By Wednesday of next week, I will be on my way to my new-again home, Minneapolis, MN. I was born in Minneapolis, and lived there for a total of two post-natal weeks. In some ways I’m hoping this move will be a rebirth for me. I’ve definitely stagnated in life; whatever my expectations of post-college life, I think I speak for many my age when I say life is not as glamorous as I thought it would be. Nor do I find a logical path set before me; instead, I feel like a hurtling missile whose trajectory and guidance systems have been tampered with.
I will be living by Lake Harriet, the very lake my mother used to walk around as she tried to convince the already week-late Erin-fetus that it was time to be freaking born already. Living by the lake excites me, especially since I’ll be working from home. I will have some place to go, something to do during my work breaks. And there is a constant flux of people, so I (hopefully) won’t be some friendless loser whose only contact with the world outside is a monthly teleconference with her manager.
And of my favorite states in the Union, Minnesota ranks right up there. Michigan, Washington, and Maine (at least my fantasies of Maine and Maine winters) also score huge with me.
It’s strange, though. It’s my last day at work tomorrow, then on Tuesday the movers come, and Wednesday I start driving. But my actual move seems light years away; it hasn’t sunk in yet that I’m leaving this lovely, gloomy state; or that I’m leaving the one true and genuine friend I’ve made in years.
One comfort I have found is a strange companion indeed–The Kalevala: The Epic Poem of Finland. I stumbled upon this poem while trying to look up information about Nuuksio National Park. The meter seemed familiar, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, so I Wikipedia’ed it. And indeed the meter, trochaic tetrameter or the Kalevala meter, was used by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow when he wrote The Song of Hiawatha.
If you have read even parts of Hiawatha, you will recognize the Ojibwa (Chippewa) names of Nokomis, Minnehaha, Hiawatha, Minnetonka, and so on. Pretty much everything in Minnesota has an Ojibwa-derived name. And in another cool vacation-Minneapolis parallel, within the Chippewa National Park is an area called Suomi, which is Finnish for Finland.
So the Universe is reassuring me in all the signs-giving ways that this is, indeed, the right decision for me. I am happier for having found these poems, so I leave you with parts of both:
O’er her eggs the teal sat brooding,
And the knee grew warm beneath her;
And she sat one day, a second,
Brooded also on the third day;
Then the Mother of the Waters,
Water-Mother, maid aerial,
Felt it hot, and felt it hotter,
And she felt her skin was heated,
Till she thought her knee was burning,
And that all her veins were melting.
Then she jerked her knee with quickness,
And her limbs convulsive shaking,
Rolled the eggs into the water,
Down amid the waves of ocean,
And to splinters they were broken,
And to fragments they were shattered.
The Song of Hiawatha
By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.
There the wrinkled old Nokomis
Nursed the little Hiawatha,
Rocked him in his linden cradle,
Bedded soft in moss and rushes,
Safely bound with reindeer sinews;
Stilled his fretful wail by saying,
“Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!”
Lulled him into slumber, singing,
“Ewa-yea! my little owlet!
Who is this, that lights the wigwam?
With his great eyes lights the wigwam?
Ewa-yea! my little owlet!”