Nobody home

I recently got the sad news the Savonlinna School of Translation Studies (Kansainvälisen viestinnän laitos, KVL) is going to be moved to Joensuu to be housed together with the rest of the University. I spent five years of my life at KVL studying translation and Savonlinna has always had a special place in my heart. Firstly, it’s my birth place. Secondly, the family summer house is nearby. Thirdly, I’ve spent just about every summer of my childhood in and around Savonlinna. If there’s one town in Finland I miss, then it’s this one. But the problem is that it’s a fairly small town tucked away in the Eastern Finland. Unemployment is sky high with all the businesses leaving the town one by one, so the loss of KVL feels like a death blow. Just about the only thing that is holding the town up now is the Opera Festival and the rest of the tourist attractions, with what Savonlinna ideally situated between two major waterways and the Linnansaari National Park close by. But how many people can the summer tourism support? It’s just two months of the year… for the remaining ten, the town dies.I would dearly like to be a positive statistic for the old town. But I might as well stop dreaming right now, because there’s no job for me either. My only chance would be to freelance – as a translator? No, haven’t done that since 1995 when I got my degree. As a photographer? No, I don’t have what it takes. Could I get a job as a Lotus Notes Administrator? Nope, doubt there’s a domino shop left in town.

Since I heard the bad news, Amy Grant’s old song Nobody Home has been playing in my head. It’s always been a favourite as I’ve considered it to be a metaphor for my life; a bright future behind me. But now it also has a literal meaning as an epitaph for my beloved Savonlinna. It’s even more depressing.

Main street u.s.a boarded up and dry
Knowin’ what once was here just makes me wanna cry
Used to be the favorite place
Now what remains are memories even time cannot erase
Old man Johnson’s store, where we grew up too fast
All that remains today are echoes from the past
Used to be a boomin’ town
All that’s left is either broken up or broken down

Singing, oh ah, oh ah, oh ah, oh
Where we used to belong
There ain’t nobody home
Said, oh ah, oh ah, oh ah, oh
You can knock all you want
But, ain’t nobody home

Packed up, moved away, runnin’ from the past
Leaving behind the dusty dreams and broken glass
Used to be a busy town
Now, everybody passes through, but they don’t stick around

Was a newsstand on the corner
Right next to the barber shop
And down the street there
That’s where all the kids would stop
And they would tease the neighbor’s bulldog
Laugh and run away
Now, there’s no one left who knows the truth in what you say

(song written by Glen Ballard & Siedah Garrett)

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