Tag Archives: #home

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.

Remembering Oma

1972-with-oma

Remembering my dear oma, who was born on this day in 1909 and passed away on 26th of December, 1996. What would I have done without you?

“Frida carried herself with dignity. She was delicate, and small, but very strong. When she made spaetzle, a Southern German pasta delicacy, the recipe called for her to beat the dough continuously for half an hour. She did so without a problem while I barely managed five minutes before it felt as if my arm was falling off. Her skin felt like soft, warm leather with thousands of fine wrinkles. When she smiled, her entire face seemed to shine with her strong but tender soul.

My dear oma (as we lovingly call our grandmas in Germany) was modest. All of her clothes were handmade. Her kitchen was cozy and stocked with very few items for herself. The shelf dedicated for me overflowed with cookies and other delicacies she knew I loved. Oma was calm and had a German proverb for every occasion. The one I still remind myself of, whenever life seems to spiral out of control, is: “The stew is never eaten as hot as it is cooked.” Sometimes Oma got upset. On those occasions she would clap her hands together above her head and exclaim, “Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay!” The effect would be so comical, I wouldn’t know what to do – laugh at her or fold my arms around her in an attempt to comfort her. When Frida listened to me, the world stood still and gave me a chance to catch my breath. When she took me in her arms, I felt safe and loved unconditionally.

Frida was my guiding star. She was strict, yet generous. She was serious, yet had a beautiful sense of humor. Most importantly, she was loyal and had the biggest heart of anyone I have ever known. She became my knight, or rather, dame in shining armor and made it her purpose in life to make time for me whenever Konrad and Hildegard did not. She quietly saved my soul, by being an indestructible protectress who was always there no matter what happened to me, no matter what I did, no matter how devastated she felt herself. My oma became the only rock in the raging tide, keeping me sane throughout my childhood and teenage years.”

(Excerpt from Paralian, Chapter 3, “North Sea”)

You’re always with me, never to be forgotten.

Adoption

1971 christmas

“For years, I had puzzled over being the only dark-haired, darker-complexioned person in our family. My emotional make-up and character didn’t quite seem to fit with the rest of my family either. I had kept searching for similarities between my parents and me, as every child does, and had found none. But my mom Hildegard had been very convincing as to our shared blood. She had scared me with stories of how her multitude of hereditary afflictions would manifest themselves in me as I grew older. She had a large goiter on her neck as well as suffering from acute asthma. I had inherited both from her, she insisted, and would suffer as she did eventually. No matter how unpleasant the knowledge, no matter how lost I felt, and whatever life threw at me while growing up, at least I had always been secure in the knowledge of who my family was. It proved to be quite dysfunctional at times, but it was a family. But now, with my dad’s revelation, the truths on which I had based my life shattered into a million pieces.” (Excerpt from Paralian, Chapter 1)

Most of our decisions are based on prior experiences. In the case of my parents, my adoptive mom came from a traumatized post-war family and my adoptive dad tried his best to somehow neutralize her neuroses. This all led to a string of lies that, over the years, became longer than Pinocchio’s nose.

Based on personal experience, I urge all adoptive parents to not underestimate the instincts of their adopted children. When you have been given away early in life and have lost your mom, an instinctual memory manifests itself, a sense of homelessness, a longing for something the child itself can’t even define. On top of this underlying time bomb there is a more conscious awareness of something always being slightly “off”.
As I grew up I remember getting my bearings – or at least trying to – by comparing myself and my actions and emotions to those of the people in my immediate environment. Of course everyone is different but, still, I was puzzled as to how I always seemed to be so different to practically everyone else around me – not only in soul and spirit, but also in appearance.
On really bad days I fantasized about being adopted, seeing it as a good thing. On good days I rationalized how genes skip generations and how maybe there was a dark-haired, temperamental grandpa somewhere whom I’d never met. Surely I had inherited all traits from this mystery person hidden somewhere in the dense forest of our family ancestry.

What always prevailed though, like a menacing shadow following me wherever I turned, was a feeling of deep homelessness and loneliness.

My parents were terrified of telling me the truth, because especially my mom feared I’d run off to my “real” mom as soon as they’d disclose my real identity. I honestly think no adopted child would ever do that. Our “real” parents are the ones that have been taking care of us, have made sacrifices, and have been our safety net over a long period of time. We share a history together. And after some time, history becomes stronger than blood.

When my dad finally revealed the truth I was shocked and uprooted. A myriad of conflicting emotions rocked my entire world for a while, like an earthquake, complete with landslides and falling debris. Still, through it all, and after I came out of it, my adoptive parents remained – and always will be – my parents. I never even call them “adoptive” parents. When I found my biological mom she was a stranger. Blood, in the end, was not enough in and off itself.

Don’t be afraid to tell your kid he or she is adopted. Do it as early as possible. It’ll preempt the hurricane of conflicting emotions that will be sure to rage within once all thought processes properly kick in.

Told at a very late stage – in my case when I was twenty years old – the revelation can have disastrous effects. In truth, I could have easily killed myself. Pure stubborn strength (a strength I didn’t even know I had at the time) prevented me from exciting well before my time. Everything I believed to be the base of my existence vanished in the blink of an eye. All that was left for a while was a deep, dark vortex opening its ugly maw beneath my very feet.

I wish I had been told from the beginning. What a privilege it could’ve been to know I was loved even though I had arrived in my biological mom’s womb. If you think of it, how beautiful to be chosen by a couple because they want YOU and no one else to become the center of their universe.