We shared the scissors and the glue. Sometimes I used a paintbrush, but mostly I just smeared the special glue on the scraps of paper with my fingers. We were decorating small boxes and jars with decoupage. The six of us were one more than the number of chairs, so we took turns on the floor of our host’s 29 meter squared apartment, not counting the sleeping loft. That is 312 square feet, about 12 feet by 26 feet, including front hall, bathroom, kitchen, living and dining area. Once whole families lived in these apartments, delighted with the warmth and indoor toilets.
Three of us were Finnish. One was American. One was Australian. We are in evolutionary biology, finance, and computers. We are between 25 and 60 years old. Some of us are married. Some have children. We have had lives of success and failure, simplicity and complexity. Four of us will be taking flights away from Helsinki before the weekend is over.
But the point is, we did not have to explain ourselves. We did not have to talk past requesting the glue, or offering an old magazine for material. There was delicious food in the kitchen, but we grazed, not sitting down to eat the mushroom tarts, or the smoked reindeer feijoada. One guest offered around white wine in tiny glasses after the pink campaign was gone. Because we were doing something together yet apart, silence was fine. Friendship could grow without the interview stage.
Anyway, what would be the point? Some of us were already fast friends. Others we realized we would be unlikely to ever see again, no matter how much we enjoyed each other. So why get the quick life summary? Why not simply pass the glue or the scissors?