Tag Archives: #family

Time Traveling

52B976E8-D988-4A91-9801-AFD7A10A4724

Just spent an inspiring and heart-warming weekend visiting relatives. In between vivid conversations and laughter, I also took some moments to time-travel through their extensive family photo library. It was wonderful to dive into old family history as far back as 1908. To visually follow the path of my grandma, see how she lived her life… from huddling in bomb shelters in 1942 to attending christenings and weddings of the next generations throughout the years. I also saw my dad growing up in these photographs. His kind personality already shining through on the yellowed photographic paper…

At times, I miss my grandma so much (even now, 18 years after her death) it becomes hard to breathe. Frida had so much strength. She gave without boundaries. Her genuine laughter brought sunshine and happiness to everyone around her. No matter how tough her life was at times (and it was damn tough, believe me), she gave her heart to everyone around her. To this day, she is the source of my strength and my greatest inspiration. My uncle told me this weekend that Frida used to say “If I had cried every time I decided to laugh instead, I’d have been in deep trouble.” I still need to mull this sentence over for a while… for there is some profound truth in her simple words.

In the years to come, I am planning to write at least one book about Frida’s life. I copied a good portion of my relatives’ family photo archive. It will help me to remember my grandma more vividly, not just through my eyes but also through the eyes of others… and to weave all the things I’ve heard about her into a story you and I both will enjoy reading and remembering.

Being Grateful

IMG_1593

Lately, life has run away with me a bit. Too many things happening all at once… some of them rather surprising and turbulent. Yet again, I was reminded to never be sure of anything. Everything can change in a heartbeat. We can lose and gain all we hold dear from one second to the next. I guess, the universe felt it had to shake me awake a bit, “Hey little bi-ped, don’t get too self-assured, don’t take things for granted. I’m am lending you some moments of happiness. Enjoy them while they last.” So I am trying to do just that. A friend of mine said a while ago, he copes with life by being grateful for everything. He is grateful for all the good that comes to him. But he is also grateful for all the blows life deals out, because they, too, teach him, and shape him into a unique, continuously growing human being… and he uses whatever cards life has in store for him to nurture his creativity and be productive.
I am indeed grateful for many things. I’m grateful for all the love and friendship I’ve been lucky to experience so far. I’m grateful for comical moments like these, when our little boy Nacho stubbornly stares me down at breakfast in hopes of getting that little piece of croissant. I am grateful and I am hopeful.

Friendship

dave and liam

Today I am thinking of my close friends, my family. This was Christmas 2006 with my best buddy (I’ve changed his name in my memoir to protect his privacy) and an entire team of unforgettable people on Kuredu Island in the Maldives.
Every day, I am fully aware how lucky I was – and still am – to have this wonderful friend in my life, even though now we rarely get to see each other anymore. Most Christmases on the island we cooked cheese fondue together and ate it in front of one of our rooms, with a good bottle of wine, or two, or three 😉
I miss those long, enchanted moments, miss planning adventurous trips, or just listening to each others’ thoughts until the early morning hours.
Merry Christmas everyone! To true friendship, family, love, and compassion! xoxoxo

“My best friend on the island, Milo, had arrived one year after me. He was German and an amazing soul. Milo had a beautiful body and long blond hair, making him very popular with the single ladies vacationing on Kuredu. What made him one of a kind, though, was his keen people sense and his positive spirit, which was second to none. His good humor and naiveté often had us all in tears with laughter. Milo’s English was very basic upon his arrival. When he started guiding snorkel boats, he would greet his snorkelers every morning with a heartfelt, “It’s such a pity to see you today!” then misinterpret the roaring laughter of his snorkelers as pure delight. We enjoyed the show too much to inform him of his error.
Milo and I were soul mates. We spent many evenings outside on the front step of our rooms, drinking gin and cokes and gorging ourselves on ready-made cheese fondue brought all the way from Europe for us by returning guests. We traveled together several times in our breaks between contracts. We dreamed of exploring the world together, planning daring adventures for the years to come. I hadn’t been blessed with such a deep friendship since my childhood. Milo was like the younger brother I never had. His friendship and unwavering loyalty meant the world to me.”
(Excerpt from Paralian, Chapter 26, “Philippine Sea”)

When I Found Home

devils tear liam and hanna

When I found home…

“Our relationship had grown like a table coral – and still did. Tree-like, it fanned out, each tiny branch connecting to others to build a magnificent structure – tough and brittle at the same time.
Both of us knew how easily such a delicate formation could break. For the first time, however, I was confident to have found a partner who was as committed to our common cause as I was. We were different in so many ways, yet together our universe expanded. We challenged and supported each other in equal measure.” (Excerpt from Paralian, Chapter 33)

… And five years later, we’re still braving life’s turbulences together.
Thank you for being the beautiful soul you are. Thank you for being in my life.

My Thoughts Are With Macau

typhoon hato 35

Since last week, my thoughts are with Macau and with my dear friends who live there. Typhoon Hato went through my former home with wind speeds of up to 250 km/hour.

My work buddies and I used to get excited each time a typhoon would come our way. Because if it made it up to T8 strength, it would mean we would have a day off, to chill at home together with a cold beer, gazing out at the storm. The storms rarely went above a T3. But sometimes, when they did, we would even venture into the tempest. To feel its raw power and brave the salty gusts, feeling as if sea monsters had wrapped their muscular tentacles around us. I cringe now, thinking of how often I wished for the storm to strike, barely noticing how much it affected the lives of the people in its destructive path on its way to Macau.

Now, Typhoon Hato has topped the scale. It was a T10 and squarely fits the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for.” The entire city was flooded, eerily reminiscent of movie scenes from “The Day after Tomorrow”. Some people lost their homes. Others even lost their lives. This was, quite frankly, shit-scary. Even from afar.

Amazingly, this natural disaster also made me realize just how much of a home Macau has become for me over the years. Living in Switzerland at the moment, too far away, unable to lend a hand in the post-Hato clean-up and rebuilding, I feel more connected to this unique, East-Asian town than since I left it.

I see now, more than ever, how much Macau has given me. There was hardship, too. Even trauma. But overall there was learning on a scale like never before. There was abundant adventure, happiness, despair, soulfulness, friendship, and camaraderie. There was even family… and a special one at that. I still miss my House of Dancing Water show family. Nothing is quite the same after living and working with such a diverse and spirited group of people.

Their theatre has been closed for a week now. Cast and crew are heading out into the city every day, actively helping with the relief efforts, even taking care of the four-legged victims at Macau’s pet shelters. I’m thinking of you guys. I’m with you. And I’m proud of you. Be safe.

I Hope, Deep Down You Knew

2000 young man in malta

Uniting my body with my soul meant breaking the heart of the one person who had always been there for me – my oma (grandma). As the hormones took an ever-firmer hold, I tried explaining to her who I was. Unfortunately, she was becoming progressively more senile. Oma sadly asked for me. Countless times, she would ask Dad, “Why does Stefanie never come home to visit us anymore?”

Every time I visited, I would cook her favorite rice pudding. We would sit together at her small dining room table, holding hands and gazing together out the window at the night sky. Sometimes, say when there was a full moon, Oma would happily point and exclaim, “Look! The moon has come to say hello. Isn’t this magical?” It was. But, while my eyes followed her outstretched arm, she would try to hide my, to her palate, unsuccessful attempt at making rice pudding. She would spit the gelatinous mass quickly into her napkin and throw it under the table. I noticed each time this happened, but would always pretend I hadn’t. Immediately after she shuffled to another room, I would quickly grab a rag and bucket and clean up the mess. On other occasions, I would search for her dentures. Due to her ever-increasing senility, they would end up in the oddest places – inside flowerpots, in the oven, or under her bed.

During her clearer moments, Oma would look at me and I would hope to see a small spark of recognition in her searching eyes. Most times, though, her eyes would seek out Dad with a confused, heart-breaking expression on her beautiful, deeply-lined face that spoke of such a long, well-lived life.

“Konrad,” Oma would ask, “who is this nice young man who is taking such good care of me?”

To this day, it breaks my heart if I let myself think too much about Oma’s last years. I hope on some deeper level she understood I was always right by her side. She meant the world to me.

(Excerpt from Paralian, photograph from the year 2000, when I was 29, just after my transition, finally being myself. More info here)

This is to you Dad

2002 dad liam and sami

For my Dad. I love you.
Check out my story here on Bored Panda.

Or, of course, you can read it right here:

When you were little, you had a tame chicken, then a crow, and later an Alsatian. You named them all ‘Jakob’. No points for creativity but, most definitely, for purity of heart.

When your wife couldn’t have children of her own, yet craved to be a mom, you said “yes” to adopting me from an orphanage, even though at the time you weren’t even sure you wanted to be a dad.

While I grew up, you struggled with responsibility, your marriage, and your sexual orientation. You weren’t a poster book dad during those times. But being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world and you did the best you could.

After school, I frightened you many times with my rather adventurous career choices. You voiced your concern but never tried to press me into your mould. You let me be my own creation. And, no matter what I did, even if it took me far away from you in every sense of the word, you told me you were proud of me.

Whenever I was impatient with you, even when I was cruel and judgmental, you forgave me. You beamed when you saw me and had tears in your eyes each time I left.

During the many times I couldn’t handle my financials, you lent me money. And when I was too broke to pay it back, that was ok, too.

When I told you I was transgender, you struggled for a while, but nevertheless gave me my very first straight razor and a bottle of Davidoff Cool Water early on during my hormone therapy, long before there was any facial hair to shave off.

Whenever I fell in love, even if sometimes it must have been obvious to anyone but me I’d run headfirst into a wall, you didn’t question my decisions. You let me discover the bewildering universe of relationships for myself.

When I wrote my first book ‘Paralian – Not Just Transgender’, you paid my rent for a year so I could stop working at my day job and write full time. You trusted me. This even though I lived halfway around the world and, when you asked, I didn’t give you a clear description of what I was writing. All I said was, “It’s going to be a book about my life.”

When Paralian was finally published two years later, you read it. I was authentic, at times painfully honest. Amongst other things, I outed you to the whole world as gay. You weren’t upset. “This is a great accomplishment,” you said, “Amazing really. I am so proud of you.”

My wife and I travel over to see you once a month now. You instantly accepted her and love her with your marvellous, warm-hearted open-mindedness.

I’m still haunted by my childhood memories at times. When they come, like dark clouds covering the sun, I can’t help being angry, or impatient and too tough on you even now. You can be so naive, so utterly out of this world. It’s your greatest strength and Achilles heel all wrapped into one.

No matter what though, I know who you are Dad. You’re my best friend. My true family.

You are a thoroughly authentic man with the kindest heart I’ve ever known.

I love you.

And I am immensely proud of you, too.