I love cities. I have loved a man once and I do not believe I can share the same kind of bond with any other cities as I did with this man, but when it comes to cities I wholeheartedly support polygamy despite the fact I do not comprehend how humans may share that characteristic in a relationship among then. I wrote my first love letter when I was seventeen, having just discovered Amsterdam. I was so much in love that I was determined to drop everything else and move in with her. In one way I perhaps did.
I am a man who resides in Helsinki and pursues his Masters degree in political science at a local university. My relationship with the city has been rather complicated: I was born and raised in Helsinki, but I grew up disliking her in spite of all the safety and comfort she offered me. I moved out soon after meeting Amsterdam and lived two years of my life in Swaziland where I finished my high school. Afterwards life took me to a remote college town in the United States, to the capital of peace and justice in the Netherlands, to a war-torn yet inspiring city in Croatia and the worldwide centre for diplomacy in Switzerland before I committed the most unexpected action of my existence: moving back to Helsinki.
I believe my favourite city in the world is Paris, but the last two times I went to see her was with the man so I am not absolutely sure how I would feel about being there again. I do like to think that when the time comes for me to visit Paris, she would embrace me with the strikingly passionate love that has inspired so many wandering poets and politicians. Paris loves like no one else in the world.
Besides cities I tend to flirt with the humankind and words. Both relationships are rather complicated. The latter I deserted soon after falling in love with the man, but I have attempted to restore their faith on me for some time now. Not with much success, though. Unconditional forgiveness requires power that even we ourselves are not able to have control over. It is a process that demands patience, time and almost divine abilities to override the humiliation, the pain and the suffering caused by the one you loved the most. Others can. Most want to, but simply cannot. There are limits to what we are able to withstand.
With the humankind on the other hand the roles are reversed, somewhat. In fact I think I had fell in love with her long before I met Amsterdam. I was young, very young and I was watching television. ER was on, it was one of the shows I watched so keenly in my adolescence and not just because Noah Wyle’s performance as Dr. Carter. Each season they filmed one episode outside of the hospital and this one was about the crisis in Darfur. I am not so sure what really happened in the forty-two minutes, but I remember thinking afterwards I want to make a difference in the world. I also visited India soon after the episode. Although I had visited the country on several occasions in my childhood, only now my eyes saw the inequality and poverty ruling over the polluted streets. At that moment I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
I have struggled with my relationship with the humankind. So many times he commits actions that appall me to the extent I am on the verge of emergency. I will not deny that the thought of giving up on him has not crossed my mind; and it still does. I have questioned the purpose of this relationship so often that I would be filthy rich if I got a cent for every time the image lurked into my brains. But I am still here, still loving him. Because I believe in essence the humankind is most compassionate, loving and caring creature that the universe has ever witnessed. The change might be painfully slow and many have rightful claims to reject its existence, but it does not mean he is not evolving.
Areas that I am most engaged with include human rights (particularly to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in addition to women’s rights), international development (healthcare and social aspects) and peace and conflict issues. At the time when I forged my relationship with the humankind, I had a clear vision of the way I would contribute to making the world a better place for all of us. I planned to photograph, write and teach. Now I am determined to the enter policy-making field and initiate the change within the system that is partly to blame at the current situation. Nevertheless I will not cease photographing, writing and teaching because arts and education are more powerful tools than most people are willing to acknowledge. I just hope the two former are able to forgive me.
These are three greatest love affairs I have at the moment. I am content with what I have but I cannot help from dreaming of the majestic feeling that Paris represents, a bond many are jealous of. I believe I once had it, but as it is over and in the past I am reluctant to lose on the hope that there is the one who would complement my presence in this astonishing world. Perhaps I am a hopeless romantic but there is nothing more I would like to have than holding his hands in the streets and feel the tenderly tingling sensation traveling throughout my body. The sanctuary of our bedroom where I would wake up spooning him in my arms, gently brushing my stubble against his to take him away from the dreams that are not able to compare to what we have in the reality. During the weekends after long days of work our children would run jump onto us too early and I would act all grumpy while he would invite them all into the bed for cuddle, telling me how lucky we are with his sunshine smile. I would pretend to ignore him, trying to continue sleeping and he would whisper the usual thing to the children. And the ritual of tickling me to wake up would commence once again.
Nevertheless I do not think I will be unhappy without the greatest love story that the world has ever seen. I am blessed with inspiring friends with whom I have the most delightful conversation until the sunrises. I have a family that despite all the struggles I have put them through love me the way I am. I have my cities that show me a peek to the stories of people who love them as much as I do them. I have seen so much of the world and there is still so much to experience.
But I will never stop dreaming about falling in love. That is what defines me the most.