Letters to Virginia Woolf #2

Dear Virginia Woolf,

It’s me again. I’m sitting between all my books about you not knowing where to start. Maybe in the order of time? Or from popularity? Where should I start? Your years of finally making it in the writing scene, years before your suicide or the teenage years when writing was just a dream of yours?

Like I told you, I already read your diary entries from 1915-1918. It has taught me a lot but also left many unanswered questions.

Can I really trust you Virginia?

Monday 18th of March in 1918 you speak about Hilton Young. The diary entry mentions that you haven’t spoken since 1908. That day you have a nice conversation with him and leave it at that. It takes some googling before I discover that Hilton Young proposed in 1908. He wanted to get married with you. Virginia, you said no and then didn’t speak with him for 10 years. Or was there a different reason for your fight?

Whatever the reason is, you don’t mention any of this. It makes me wonder. Can I truly trust you? What else are you not telling me?

What happened in 1916? That’s the other thing bugging me. There’s no diary entries, no stories of your first novel getting published. You never mention it. Sometimes you write, sometimes get a good idea but mostly you don’t write about writing. Were you as stuck as me? Did writing feel impossible at times?

This letter has more questions than it should. And you can’t even answer me. Virginia, I don’t know why I’m writing to you or why I’m so interested in you. Tomorrow I will start reading your first diary and letters from that era.

Letters to Virginia Woolf

Dear Virginia Woolf,

You don’t know who I am. And two months ago I didn’t know you either. We are just two writers almost a century apart. 54 years, 2 months, 13 days – that’s how long there was between us. You killed yourself after forever of struggling in March 1941, I was born not knowing all the hardships I would face in June 1995.

Mrs. Woolf or can I call you Virginia? Both of us share many similar traits. Writers, issues with mental health, seeing the world from a different perspective. But you will never know this because you’re dead. And even I don’t yet know how deep our bond truly goes.

1915-1918 those are the years from your diaries I have read so far. But it feels like I should have started from somewhere far before.

It was a sunny day in June when I first saw your diaries in a bookstore. All 5 of them were in the discount aisle. The back cover told me you were a writer but that’s all. I had never heard of you and dead people have never been an interest of mine. Still, something in these books screamed for me. I took the first one and continued my stroll around the store. It’s just a few euros, that’s what I thought.

When I finally got to the counter something didn’t feel right. Those 4 remaining diaries kept bugging me. Call it intuition, destiny or my addiction to books but my mind kept telling me to take all five of your diaries home. And so I did.

Next thing I knew, I couldn’t stop reading your first entries in 1915. Maybe I saw myself in you or you in myself or the text just felt so real. Virginia Woolf, you interest me.

It took only a week from me to know that this was now a thing. You and me had become a thing so I had to find as much information about you as possible. Not my proudest moment when one night I ordered your early diary, essay collections and letter collections to go together with the diaries already in my bookshelf. 16 books of you all together. 16 books full of text written by you.

Reading someone’s writing is the closest way to be with them. 54 years, 2 months, 13 days between us but I can feel you in my bones.

26.6.2019

Wednesday

Almost put a sweater on today. Regretted it later when it was freezing outside and would have needed that funny text decorating the shirt. Or maybe it wasn’t even cold but we are used to too good. This summer has been too hot and now even the normal temperatures feel deadly cold. I didn’t return home even if that was in my mind.

I waited forever for my tram – first time driving above the ground on this small holiday. For some reason, metro is always my first choice. I fit in best underground.

My only plan for the day was to visit the outdoor flea market but that ended up being a total flop. The windy dark day had driven every vendor away. Talked sometime with an older woman about harlequin novels. Almost bought some but my bags are already full – don’t even know where to put those 5 Virginia Woolf books I bought a few days ago.

Like a true Finn, I didn’t let the cold summer day bother me and lined up to buy ice-cream. Oreo & coconut-melon. Next to me two men ate ice cream talking about the coming Pride parade. “I have never been, not really my thing.” His friend looked so uncomfortable, scared. Old couple in front of us shared toffee ice-cream like teenagers in love.

I wanted to write but ignored my shaking hands.

It was time to walk a long way to metro and home but destiny had other plans. Big museum sign with museum card (allows you a free pass to most museums in Finland) image called for me. Empty museum & me. Walking around so inspiring. In one dark corner was this blue & winged statue. 20 centimeters tall. In a glass box. No head. Angel in royal blue. Why I couldn’t avert my eyes?

Stood there probably like 15 minutes. The employees had already given up and left me alone with irreplaceable art pieces. Darkness, me & blue creature. Had like a million story ideas in my head. A boy walks in the museum, finds a statue that takes him on an adventure.

Continued my way and ended up to 5 more museums.

Is it normal to get inspired by art other people have done? Got to know more about the life of Tove Jansson. She’s a very popular Finnish artist and writer behind the Moomins.

Last stop of my day was Temppeliaukio Church – Top 10 Must See Things In Helsinki/Finland Church. I have a lot of traveler mates who keep asking me why the heck I haven’t visited this place. Now I have. Are you happy?

Temppeliaukio Church is nothing that special. Just a church built inside a rock. There I was merging into a Japanese tourist group like everything was okay. Took some photos. Sat in the last row. Purple seat, extinct candles, no silence. I’m not that religious but visiting churches or religious sites has always been one of my favorite things. The atmosphere holds something special – makes me want to write.

Only at home I realized today was a bad day.

There’s no feeling in my legs. Hands keep missing keys. Couldn’t eat, can’t swallow. For a moment I didn’t even remember if I took the pills this morning. I want to write but my head keeps forgetting words in English and in Finnish. Tomorrow is going to be worse – I can feel it in my bones. Why can’t I just let myself rest when needed? I want to live so badly that it backfires.

Now I will watch Netflix – started Supernatural even if it gives me nightmares. Maybe read a few pages of Virginia Woolf’s first diary. I’m in the year 1917. Her beautiful descriptions of the daily life of two writers have changed to something different. Short, meaningless, like she was trying to hide something. Two years of the diary are missing and Wikipedia tells me she published her first books but also tried to kill herself during that time.

So much can happen in so short time. Where will I be in two years?