Finland's 100th independence day and the memory of a penguin at a bus stop

Mittwoch, 6. Dezember 2017

Hej hej! Today Finland celebrates the 100th independence day! It makes me a little melancholic seeing all the celebrations but not being able to join. I miss my Finnish friends and would love to share this special day with them and be part of the celebrations, but nevertheless, I wanna send all my love and congratulations to all the Finns out there: You can be proud of your country and all its beautiful facets! I am proud to be partly one of you and that I've been allowed to call many Finnish souls my friends! Hyvää itsenäisyyspäivää Suomi! 

But moreover, this is not only a special day for Finland but also one for me and a beloved one of mine, because one year ago on Independence Day I met someone who is very dear to me and who found a special place in my heart - Let me tell you the story of the penguin at a bus stop!

One year ago I have been stumbling through the frozen forest, wrapped in my thick scarf and woolen sweater, a hat warming my ears. I was on my way deep into the forest to find a quiet place because I had some news to tell you in one of my vlogs (here) - I announced that I would stay six more months in Finland. It has been a very happy day, even though I slipped on a frozen puddle shortly after filming the video and broke my tripod but luckily no bones. The sun was shining brightly on that cold 6th of December and I enjoyed the silence and solitude in the woods. What a beautiful day it has been! I felt so happy that day I can still feel it in my chest thinking back now. After a while, I made my way out of the forest again, back to the city where I was about to take the bus home. That day I forgot my phone at home, which never happened before, but for some reason, some may say coincidence, I left it home that day so when I came to the bus stop I had no clue what time it was and when the next bus would come. When I turned to the left to ask the guy who was standing next to me at the bus stop, something strange happened. I never experienced something like this before, but at this very moment, I looked at Joel time seemed to stop for a second and there was something intense and magical - I just remember it as some kind of light coming from him (which sounds weird, I know). But in that very moment, I knew he would become someone very special to me. He was standing there in his suite, all dressed up for the Independence day celebrations - he looked like a very tall penguin randomly waiting for the bus. I asked him for the time and he told me the bus would come in a few minutes, then I turned towards the road again, because damn, I am just too shy to talk to strangers. But luckily Joel overcame his own shyness and asked me where I was from and so we got into a conversation. The bus came, we hopped on and I remember we talked the entire ride back home. I rarely felt so talkative with a stranger. And this is how it started - the friendship between a Swedish speaking Finn and a German redhead.

Since then we created a lot of memories. Joel showed me many beautiful places in Helsinki, took me out for my first Sushi (and my first drunken night afterwards - I KNOW not very exemplary but hey, I am always following the rules, sometimes I need to let go as well), we scratched plaster from the walls and stood on the roof cleaning windows in the sun, spent nights talking in a hotel room and plundered the breakfast buffet the next morning, and even went shooting a real gun! You might say, Joel is like the little devil sitting on my shoulder, having some negative influence on me and making me do things I usually wouldn't do, but let me tell you, there has never been a moment when he hasn't been there for me when I needed his help, when I have been in need of someone to listen and cheer me up. When I am with him there is a smile on my face the entire time. I never laughed so much in my life as I do with Joel. I remember we went to a little cafe when I have been back in Helsinki in September. We sat on a hill, each of us a hot chocolate and some cake on our plates. After a while, some cute little birds flew over hopping around on the ground looking for some crumbles. Joel placed his plate on the ground and they hopped on it with their cute little paws and picked all the crumbles from the plate. I couldn't finish my piece so I asked Joel if he wanna have it and of course he immediately threw the last piece of cake over on his plate. But after a few bites his eyes widened, he made a grimace and said: " The birds have been lumbering on the plate!" I laughed so hard, you have no idea! It might not sound as funny as it has been because you had to see the face he made while realizing that he just ate from the plate where five birds have been sitting on a second ago, haha. I laughed at him the next fifteen minutes and he joined me. This is just one of many precious moments we shared - there are so many more. Him telling me boring historian facts about buildings and people I do not know but I listened anyway because I love how passionate he is about it, walks through the woods, drives with the tram through the village of wooden houses, and the hug when we had to say goodbye on my last day in Finland.
Joel has such a pure heart and has always been there for me even though he had to fight his own demons so much. He made me jump over my own shadow and made me realize that there are people who love me when I felt worthless and alone. Joel, I wish you just the best in life because you deserve all of it and so much more. All you have been through, all you have given me and the people you care about, all these things make you the person you are today, the person that means so very much to me and that turned from a stranger at the bus stop to one of the dearest people in my life. I am the luckiest one to call you my friend! <3 

Joel tries to convince me that he doesn't look like Zac Efron, but please, look at him, he could be his brother! The photo at the top has been taken when we've been on the bus heading towards one of our adventures. The bottom one Joel took of us when I've been laughing and crying at the same time when we drank too much and became a bit too emotional, hihi.


  1. Oh, dieser Text hat mir ein richtig schön warmes Gefühl ums Herz beschert - so lebendig und schön beschreibst du eure Freundschaft! So etwas ist ein echtes Geschenk und ich freue mich sehr für dich, dass du dieses Geschenk erhalten durftest! :)

    1. ohhhh wie wunderbar! Das macht mich sehr glücklich, denn mir ist auch das Herz fast aus der Brust gesprungen, als ich ihn geschrieben habe. Manchmal kommt mein kleines Herz gar nicht mit so viel Liebe zurecht.

      Eine Umarmung schicke ich dir!


  2. hello michelle, nice and pleasant story, sometimes we can meet very good people, who can leave very good memories of pleasant stories. Greetings, fernando.

  3. such a sweet story, when will you return to finland and your boyfriend? love from portugal

    1. Joel is not my boyfriend ;)
      And I am not sure when I will go back to Finland :)

      Love, Michelle


Daughter of the Woods © 2018 | All rights reserved

Illustrations by Emily Stelten