Act two 


This is what Brené Brown has discovered about belonging: 

Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted (Brown 2010, 25).
You are only free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all (Maya Angelou, quoted by Brown 2017, 5).
True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. (Brown 2017, 137).

Reparation is only possible in belonging, not in the act of trying to fit in. Belonging is the homecoming. When I began to realise that belonging was somehow at stake, with all the emotions I was experiencing at the march, I knew that a paranoid reading was not the only way to analyse my marching transformation, the end of worrying and the beginning of loving. 

When we begin the march from the Hietaniemi beach towards the Santahamina base, I have a chat with the leader of my group. I tell him I have not yet found a suitable moment to interview anyone in our group.

He promises to ask a cadet to volunteer and come walk with me for the interview. Such moments of care take me by surprise, and even more surprising is how good the clarity of command feels. I am released from the anxiety of trying to figure out when and who to talk to. I do not even have to know where we are and what we are doing. I can breathe, move my legs and follow.

Perhaps this is a particular militarised care, and I am new to it. As part of it, there is a regular check-up to make sure no one is left behind. Someone shouts from the front, “Is researcher Hast still here?”. I am called out in the same manner as soldiers are in the Finnish military, by my last name, including my ‘rank’. 

The way care functions here is as a “critically disruptive doing that can open to ‘as well as possible’ reconfigurations engaged with troubled presents” (Bellacasa 2017, 12). Care disrupts: it soothes, connects and attunes, but within structures which are exclusive, expensive and destructive. 

The group gets more talkative and relaxed as the march proceeds, and by the time we are in the suburb of Pasila, bodies are at ease. There is a particular moment when crossing a street, the sun shining sweetly, that I feel the group has marched long enough for bodies to have synched. Nothing visible happens, I just sense a subtle change. At the first control point, the group begins joking. Even if the jokes are gendered, I do not mind, because the fact that someone is making contact with me, and joking around me, feels like a small victory. They are getting used to me.