Snow covers everything as if a giant toddler went through the world and covered it in mess. The leafless sticks that once were trees stand stark against the sky. It’s very quiet.

It’s so quiet that I can hear my own thoughts. And they’re screaming at me, “What are you going to do with your life? Where are you going to live and how are you gonna make money? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”

My winter boots are heavy and restrictive as I plod through the snow. No fresh snowfall for a few days means it’s gotten all grubby and mucky, no longer white and pristine.

Sure, the pretty snow is pretty to look at when it’s all white, the day-to-day of living with snow is just something else entirely. Once it becomes the evidence of the city life around you, it loses its charm. A white tapestry dipped in the muck of cars, dotted with dog shit and marbled with dog piss.

I think that the easiest thing to do would be to live here, figure out some way to deal with the winters, and at the same time I know I’m never going to fully adjust to this country.

I never have, to be honest. By my heritage, I have been bastardised and have never genuinely felt a sense of belonging. The irony in this is that my heritage in itself is a bit of a bastard, without fully being tied to neither Sweden nor Finland. We Finnish-Swedes fall somewhere in between – not fully of either culture, but entirely our own.

My thoughts wash over me in a wave of despair every time I think about going outside, “What are you going to do?!” they cry into the silence of my soul.

The plants are desperately turning towards the scant daylight they get each day, and I marvel at the new, bright green shoots, though it’s only January. I look at the street outside and remember the phone that fell from my daughter’s hands.

All at once, the loss of that phone seems so great, but it’s just a device. It doesn’t hold the memories or the experiences it’s the medium for. If I had never left this country in the first place, I’d know nothing about life now, and I might worry more about things like phones breaking.

It’s dark in the early hours of morning and dim during morning. From three o’clock in the afternoon it looks like midnight until the next morning. The big story in the evening news is that the sun might make an appearance later in the week. Then again the cloud cover is thick and the dishwater grey light it fills the world with is ubiquitous.

It’s hard to sleep in this eternal night. I’m too hot and my thoughts are too loud. I lie in bed staring into the darkness and listen to my own thoughts, turning in an endless loop in my head.

I think about life in other countries. How it was before. And how could it be in the future.

What will I miss most? What will I find instead? My eyes devour TikToks from Ireland, while my mind wanders somewhere beyond the cognitive horizon for an hour before finally go to sleep.

If someone gives me one more (well-meaning) lecture about how this is one of the best countries in the world to live in, and why would I even want to consider living anywhere else, I’m going to write a book about how you get stuck in an endless loop of regret if you never chase your dreams (even if they are scary or go against the grain).