During the last few months, I didn’t get out much except for short walks around the neighbourhood. Work was intense, and the weather was just too grey and wet for me to want to go on big excursions.
However, as soon as spring kicked off here and the days got longer, warmer, drier, and sunnier, I took a week off to go where it was still cold, grey, and wet: to the fjords of Norway.
What brought me there initially was a concert by Ludovico Einaudi I just didn’t want to miss. Then, I figured why not leave Oslo straight away and head to the area around Bergen to explore some of the far larger fjords in the west of Norway a bit.
It turned out to be an amazing trip. Each fjord I visited was more beautiful than the one before it. Especially the Naeroyfjord, with a ferry trip from Gudvangen to Flam, was absolutely, mesmerizingly beautiful and invigorating. Even more so since the sun came out for most of the day, bathing everything in a crystal clear light, enhancing the hues of white and blue all around me to an eerie brilliance.
It was my first time ever traveling to Norway or the European North in general, and I’ll most definitely be back. For hikes, road trips, and boat cruises around even more fjords. And to explore other northern countries as well.
In addition to the landscape which was almost unreal in its beauty, I loved the general atmosphere in Norway. There was a distinct politeness, calm, and relaxedness which felt like blessed relief. Time seemed to slow down and whatever stress I felt still lingering from the months of working before soon vanished without a trace.
Everything seemed so easy, quiet, accessible, and open-minded. I never quite felt anything like it anywhere else during my abundant travels through many countries around the world. It was simply enchanting.
I’m on vacation! 2 1/2 weeks off work. Thankfully, as of this moment it still feels as if I’m suspended in time. I have all the time in the world.
In fact, this is my first vacation since beginning of 2019 that is without stress and anxiety. A vacation without existential angst… even though I’m still far from feeling steady ground under my feet again.
Nevertheless, I enjoy many a happy moment. My cat is a great teacher. He shows me how to stay in the Now.
Because often, when I see my social media feed, I get quite depressed.
Every day, there is another “congratulate Blabla for starting a new position as Blabla for this and that show.” I read it, feel happy for my colleague, but also immediately feel this deep ache radiating all the way to my core. A kind of homesickness that is incredibly hard to shake. And to be entirely honest, possibly also hurt pride.
I need to be careful not to dwell on it too much. To not get overwhelmed by sitting on the bench.
The thing is, I love working backstage, especially for circus shows. Yet, no matter how hard I’ve worked during my thus far 10 years in the business… I’ve always found it incredibly hard to get a foot in the door. I blame nepotism. So many times, my skillset and enthusiasm didn’t seem to matter when I applied for a job at a show. Managers would only hire people they already knew well…
These days, I am working in a corporate office. Admin work similar to what I am used to as a stage manager. The work is also just as fast paced and ever-changing. So that is good. Yet, I do miss being backstage running tracks in the evening. And I miss calling the show.
I’ve adapted to so many things in my life already. Yet this time, the ache remains. It feels as if I’ve lost something forever and it will leave a void I somehow cannot quite fill with anything else. Because nothing compares to the almost electrifying vividness of bringing a show to life together.
I am now stumped and quite a bit lost when it comes to figuring out where I’m headed with my life. I feel uprooted. Wanting to arrive somewhere yet not quite able to do so. Daily, I feel the ache of wanting to go backstage again to work my heart out for something burgeoning with creativity and soul.
As for hurt pride… there is the exasperating fact that everything else I’ve ever put all my energy towards has worked out for me. Except working backstage and being able to build a successful career as a stage manager. Over the years, I have been great in helping others in the industry to kickstart their career. Yet, for myself, the backstage universe seems to remain strangely out of reach.
Well, looking back over the last decade, I’ve had a good run of it, too. I worked for two amazing aquatic circus shows. One of them the largest one in the world at the time. I also got to work with a great international team on the first ever electric vehicle stunt show in the world.
So, I did manage to squeeze more than just a foot in the door every now and then over the years. And I did my best to gather as much experience as I could while I was with each show. In my last job in the industry, I even finally called the show. Meaning, I ran the show from the control booth. It’s sort of like being the bridge between everything. Keeping people safe and the spectacle flowing. Much like being a conductor for a huge orchestra. Just that in this case it’s performer cues, light, sound, special effects, props, and all kinds of things coming together. It’s like creating the same perfect Mandala every night. The timing must be just right. But still, the show will never be exactly the same.
Calling the show was something I had wanted to do for a long, long time.
Now, I seem to be completely out of the loop. As if none of these experiences ever happened. Whereas most of my former colleagues are falling neatly back into place after the pandemic. Like human puzzle pieces in a re-activated live Tetris game.
I wonder if maybe being a stage manager is just not my door? But how can something that feels so deeply invigorating and seems to fit so well to my personality and skillset be the wrong door? Maybe there are things I just cannot grasp and understand yet.
Maybe answers will await further along the road.
For now, my old street cat JoJo reminds me to count our blessings and enjoy every precious moment. To trust that, somehow, the mystery of where we’re headed will be revealed over time.
We do have a roof over our head after being homeless for a good 1 1/2 years (well JoJo was homeless for a good decade or more). Plus, it’s not just any roof. We found a gorgeous little rooftop apartment with a terrace. Our place is flooded with light. Different hues of golden sunlight find their way through our windows over the course of each day.
And I have a job. That’s not to be taken for granted.
It’s also good to have health insurance again. There are some aches and pains both JoJo and I have been struggling with that we can now take care of.
Most importantly, we are surrounded by a group of close friends whom I’ve known for decades. Many of them have always been there. No matter where I went. No matter for how long. And they’ve always accepted me for exactly who I am. We’ve grown in all kinds of different directions and yet have never grown apart.
So, JoJo and I are in a good place.
I’m relaxing into the flow as best as I can.
The person inside me who wants to have a plan would love to know about some deeper meaning in all of this. Would love to know the destination we are headed towards. And would love for it all to instantaneously make sense and feel right.
Most likely, a few years from now it really will all make sense and I’ll know why everything had to happen the way it did.
I know, it’s about the journey, not the destination. The adventurer within me appreciates that. The adventurer within is grateful for all the moments spent now in this current life situation, this current place.
Mostly, I am incredibly grateful for and happy about every second I get to spend with little, old JoJo.
Time together is always limited. I guess it is what makes the happy moments so incredibly, overwhelmingly precious.
But in our case now, I am more aware than ever before of how limited time together is. No one knows JoJo’s age. He might be anything above 10 years old. And he has FIV.
The time we have together. Friendship. Love. Supporting each other is more important than anything else. Be it human to human, or human to animal.
So, here we are, two close friends, cat and man, enjoying some last, golden autumn sunshine together.
For all Swiss-German and German speakers out there, here a little something to listen to on a relaxed Sunday afternoon: Marco Schaettin recently interviewed me for his fabulous podcast ‘Mis Coming Out’ (my coming out) and I told him about my life story… ☺️
Where do I even start… well… as you know I was looking for a job and an apartment here in Montpellier. I was even looking with a friend. She has a French passport but is not registered in France at the moment. I have an EU passport. And we wanted to find something affordable together, to share. Can’t be that hard, we thought…
It’s incredible how many bureaucratic walls we ran into. This was even more surprising to us since we have both lived in multiple countries already. Neither of us has ever encountered so many bureaucratic barriers before. Anywhere.
To sum up weeks of going from Pontius to Pilatus in two sentences: Basically, no one wanted to rent anything to us unless we had our tax revenue in France first. And no one wanted to give us a job unless we had an address in France first.
A conundrum which might have been funny had it not completely destroyed all hopes of my friend and I being able to begin a new life here in beautiful Montpellier at this time.
I pondered for a while if there was a workaround, because I really wanted to stay in Montpellier. Start a new life. New country, new city, new language, new job, maybe even a new profession. But, since I am by now already living on borrowed money, it didn’t make any sense to rent AirBnBs until I’ll be able to find a loophole in the local bureaucracy.
So, with a heavy heart, I decided to let go of Montpellier.
Immediately next came the question of where to go instead. Move onwards to maybe Spain or Portugal? But there as well I will be faced with extreme uncertainty and no idea of when and how I’ll be able to get a foot on the ground and find a roof over my head… and a job.
Instead, I have now decided to go back to the place which has already been my home twice for altogether 17 years: Zurich. In fact, each time I moved there, Zurich became my safety net after great turmoil. This will be the 3rd time. And, third time is the charm they say, isn’t it?
I have an amazing network of friends and acquaintances in Zurich. People who are close to my heart. That’s a definite plus. The climate is a definite minus. Brrrrrr.
So, onwards I go, in hopes of finding a better future. My little feline buddy JoJo and I will rent a car and drive to the Swiss border on January 10th, 2021. There, good friends will pick us up with their car. JoJo is now a registered French “cat-izen” and this will be his first ever time to cross a border as an international cat. Not bad for an old toothless street survivor.
Once in Zurich, I want to continue studying Le Francais, because I am still aiming to become fluent. And, I will begin another determined job hunt. Hopefully more successful than my last. If I can’t find anything in Zurich, in these Covid-stricken times, I might head towards other destinations after all. Malta, one of my favorite places on Earth, and a place I’ve already lived and worked in, has crossed my mind as well.
We will see. There is not much more JoJo and I can do than move forward with hope and as much confidence and positivity as we can muster.
We have roughly three more weeks here and JoJo and I both aim to enjoy our little rooftop flat which we will miss dearly. We’ll watch the golden sunsets together, and wave at our pigeon neighbors every night. I’ll miss those two love birds. So heartwarming to see them returning every single evening.
It’ll be a good Christmas. With JoJo, two love-struck pigeons, and my human friend, before she retreats to a bureaucratically friendlier locale as well. I believe a bit of French wine will be involved as well.
Merry Christmas to you all! JoJo, the pigeons, and I are sending many hugs around the world xxx
It’s been a long long time since I have posted about Paralian.
With Covid, and things that happened in the year before Covid, I have been so absorbed, and left to fend for my survival, I could not really (and still can’t) keep up-to-date with all social media channels.
I also realize, I want to dedicate far more time to daily life instead of spending too many hours online. If this year has taught us one thing, then it is that life is precious, and our face-to-face relationships are more than precious.
I do want to update you all on the situation of my book though.
It is still and will keep being available as ebook on Amazon and on other platforms like Kobo, Apple iBooks Store, etc.
But it has gone almost out of print. Troubador Publishing still holds a few copies.
But there can’t be more than 10 copies left. You can find and order used copies of Paralian online though.
And, once borders can be crossed again without quarantine, I also still have 30 books under my father’s bed. So, if any of you want to buy a signed paperback version at some time in the future, let me know. As soon as I have a chance to go visit my dad, I can send the book on its way to you.
I hope, one day, I’ll find an enthusiastic publisher who will pick it up and re-print it. And, I am still dreaming of having Paralian translated into other languages as well. I am so sure it will do well on the German market.
But for the moment, it is what it is. Still available, but rather low key 🙂
As for me, I am slowly getting back on my feet. Thankfully, I currently am spending the cold winter days only thirty minutes away from the Mediterranean Sea as well.
As soon as summer will come along, I’ll need to get underwater. I am missing the big blue with every pore of my body. For now, it’s just walks on the beach, inhaling the salty air and dreaming of getting my toes wet.
I’d never been to Egypt before and wasn’t quite sure what I’d find. One thing was sure though: after thirteen months of working full time while at the same time publishing my book ‘Paralian’ I was more than ready for a bit of adventure as well as relaxation.
Arriving at Lahami Bay resort three weeks ago, I found myself wrapped securely inside a miniature Germany-Switzerland – everything regulated and ordered, with hardly a trace of Egyptian culture detectable. The overall atmosphere was relaxing however and I hooked up with some old dive buddies to boot. Still, I had to almost force myself to ease into resort life and my traveler’s heart caught itself sighing deeply and counting the days. This place lacked authenticity, and the soul of the local people.
So my wife and I escaped the artificial resort world as much as we could and immersed ourselves underwater at the Housereef or dove in several times a day from the boat. The ocean was its deepest, most cerulean blue, with bits of sparkling turquoise twinkling around the edges.
Back on the boat for breaks between dives, I was delighted to discover the good-naturedness and fine sense of humor of our local boat crews. We got to talking and a few days later Hanna and I found ourselves walking along the beach late in the afternoon, sidestepping an armada of large hunting crabs, until we reached the small marina where all boats were anchored for the night. Ali, one of the captains had invited us to come over. As soon as we arrived, he introduced us to everyone and began preparing traditional hot beverages.
From then on we were with our Bedouin friends and brothers at the marina every day. We sat and listened, exchanged stories, cooked dinner together, learned how to roast, grind, and brew the most delicious Bedouin coffee. We marveled at the generosity and good humor of our hosts, even gazed up at the stars together late at night and shared our hopes and dreams.
This is how I like to travel, how I like to be. All that counts is the person. There is no judgment, no prejudice. There are no stereotypes, no boundaries, no labels – just human beings meeting each other with open hearts and minds. Intense eye-contact. Being fully invested in the moment. Individuals enjoying to learn from each other. Laughter, firm handshakes, sincerity, and a strong sense of self. May we meet again my brothers. Inshallah.
A long-awaited vacation is coming up… this exhausted author urgently needs two weeks of sunshine and ocean! But before I head out, I wanted to extend a BIG THANK YOU to all of you.
These past 10 days, you’ve all helped so much to push my Bored Panda story.
Because of your support, your multiple shares, likes and up-votes we’ve managed to reach 10’000 people so far!!! That is incredible. I’m humbled. Thank you for caring and being there!
It seems it still wasn’t quite enough to reach the numbers Bored Panda requires for a featured story. But it doesn’t matter. We did our best and got farther than I ever dreamed possible. People are still looking at the page as we speak.
I received countless messages, ranging from heartfelt thank you notes for sharing my story, to people seeking advice, to others writing scorching hate mail. Well, as a professor of mine used to say, “Nice doesn’t cut it. Only if people either love it or hate it have you truly touched a nerve.” It seems we have. And I’m glad we did. Together, I believe, we’ve made a little bit of difference.
So now Paralian is packing his bags to go underwater for a little while. Gliding stealthily amongst reef fish and predators like I used to – at one with myself and the world. I’ll be exploring new territory. The Red Sea is calling. Can’t wait to dive into its cerulean, invigorating depths!!!
Please take a minute to go there, SHARE on your social media pages, and click the “UP-VOTE” arrow!
We’re only a couple thousand k views and a few dozen up-votes away from landing this important post on the front page! Then millions will see it and we can make a real difference.
I already received so many emails from people sharing their own stories after they visited the Bored Panda story. Beautiful comments coming in, but also calls for help and advice. I am doing my very best to answer them all. And I’m ready to receive even more! So let’s go for it. We’ve come so far already. Thanks in advance!!!
At the moment I am sharing this story on Bored Panda to reach as many people as possible – with your help. Can you please share this link, and also go on the page and give it an “up” vote?
We got about 3’000k views so far and many good responses. I’ve received emails from people with all kinds of backgrounds, including trans people and parents of trans kids. I was touched to hear their personal stories and they told me my post helped them during a difficult time and gave them hope. So I hope we’ll be able to reach out even further.
Thanks so much for all of your support already! Truly couldn’t do it without all of you xxx
“As a teenager, I started to feel like a dwindling army, spread over too many fronts. Slowly but surely, I spiraled into a deep depression.
My parents were in no position to help me. Apart from me witnessing their arguments, their involvement in my daily life was minimal. They were too deeply entangled with their own demons. I never felt free to openly discuss my problems and thoughts with them. They rarely helped with homework, teenage angst and insecurities. I had no choice but to overcome all obstacles by myself.
Gradually, the stress at home, alongside my other troubles, became too much for me to handle. I became suicidal. During this phase of my life, I frequently jumped up onto bridge railings, despite being probably the worst athlete anyone had ever laid eyes on. With no sense of balance or coordination, I would teeter at the edge of the abyss. One part of me hoping I would fall and wondering who would notice or care. Another part of me shaking my heavy head at my stupidity and wanting to live, to live a full life more than anything.
Thankfully, these moments of tempting fate taught me how much I loved being alive. After only a few months of contemplating taking my own life, I dug deep and found courage. And I made a decision: whenever faced with seemingly insurmountable problems, I would do my best to stop running, stop resisting and instead choose to embrace them.”
(Excerpt from “Paralian: Not Just Transgender”, Chapter 5, “Swabian Ocean”)
I’ve experienced times like these more than once over the years (and probably will again).
It just got too much sometimes as I became a sherpa struggling through my very own Himalayan mountain ranges. As life added bag by bag to my load, the weight began crushing me. Labouring on, lonely, caught in a storm, the air thinning with every step I took, it seemed soothing and attractive to simply jump off the edge of a cliff and have it done with.
I am glad I never jumped. It’s not just a cliche: there always IS a way. And life is damn beautiful precisely because those forbidding mountain ranges sometimes rise up way too high in front of us. So we go forward, put one proverbial, optimistic hiking boot in front of the other, over and over, until we conquer those mountains. We have the strength to do it more than once in life if we have to. And along the way, throughout our journey, we discover moments of pure happiness we’d never have found otherwise.