Vulnerability

This story is a tough one. I kept it for myself for many years because it is about one of the most vulnerable moments in my life. I never felt strong enough to talk about it, nor to write about it. I didn’t know what to do with this story. Just forget? It didn’t work.

I was re-reading one of my former posts about Cologne this morning. And magically I felt the time has arrived. I am done with it, it has to get out, I have to share it.

I don’t know what brought me to this moment. Someone whom I met recently and like very much, who told me she was reading my blog and liking it a lot? Goeran and me being in a beautiful communication recently? Isak being far away? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter.

Here it is. I read my blog about saying goodbye to Cologne and found myself back there. What I will tell as next is the main event that made me leave Cologne once and for all.

When I moved to Cologne after Munich, I wanted to get a beautiful apartment. Goeran and I had a very beautiful one back in Munich. I was losing it all, Goeran and our beautiful home. Next stop Cologne had to offer me at least one thing more besides the job, otherwise, everything would be all too sad.

And I was so lucky, like magic, I found it. Wonderful location, wonderful apartment. I made it nice. I put all my energy into making it nice because I needed a home  I loved, one that would protect me from all the toughness I had outside. I made it nice.

Then came the winter and my beautiful home, an old-style historical home, turned out to be too cold. And how cold it was…I was afraid to go in, I was afraid to shower, I was afraid to go out because it was even colder outside. So helpless I felt…I heated it to the maximum, but it was still cold. I come from the south, you see, I don’t know how to cope with the cold. It is not in my vocabulary. My beautiful home became my torture. I loved it and I was scared of it.

I didn´t really have many friends in Cologne. I didn´t feel like making friendships either. All my dear friends were in Munich whom I had left behind. Or they were somewhere scattered in the world, whom I had left behind. In Cologne, I didn’t have the energy. I worked and I wanted to be left alone.  Tango gave me the perfect cover for that, too. I could go to a milonga, chat a little, feel like I had friends and then go home to my solitude. No attachments, no commitments. Solitude was what I wanted at that time.

One Friday evening I came home after work. I was tired, so tired. It had snowed so much, it was late, I was at my cold cold home wearing two layers of wool jumpers. I realized I had to bring the trash out, which I did. And I realized I had closed the door leaving the keys inside. I had locked myself out. I had the wool jumpers, my slippers and that was it. It was snowing a lot outside. I had nothing with me no money, so cell phone, nothing. Just the wool jumpers, slippers and myself. It was a three-floor building and none of the neighbors was there. I didn’t have my phone to call a locksmith or our landlord.

It was 11pm at night, I was alone locked out and cold.

I decided to take a taxi, drive to a “friend’s” place, the only one whose home I knew,  who lives more or less close by. He could call the landlord or a locksmith and lend me the money for the taxi.  I found the taxi, but in that state of mind, I did not remember the address of my friend, I simply could not find his place in the dark. I had seen the place only two times altogether. We got lost and the taxi driver stopped believing in my good intentions. After about 10 minutes he released me somewhere in Cologne and I had no clue where I was. Almost midnight. I was out there in the street with two jumpers on and my slippers, no money, no phone, nothing and it was snowing. It felt like I am in the middle of a nightmare and I could not believe it.

It was a big street so I started walking. I thought if I see a police car I go to them and explain my situation to get help. Indeed I saw one a few minutes later. I ran towards the car. What a relief! I explained everything and asked them to take me home or to their offices until the morning. They coldly and firmly assured me that they cannot do anything. This kind of work is not in their “scope”. I begged them to call a locksmith then. They said calling is not in their scope either, so they asked me to take care of my own self.  No money, no phone, two jumpers, slippers and under the snow, midnight. I should take care of myself, while they are equipped with everything to help me if they wanted. Ok, I care for myself thank you.

I continued to walk and I saw a taxi station. I decided I go to the first taxi in the line, explain to the driver about my situation and see what I get. I did so and I met this wonderful person, who saved me that night and maybe even for the rest of my life too. I do not remember his name…I wish from the bottom of my heart he is having a beautiful life.

I explained everything, told him I had no money with me right now and asked if he could call a locksmith to unlock my apartment tonight so that I could get in. He called one and we did not get lucky. No locksmiths tonight. This meant I was going to spend the night outside in the street in front of my door until morning in the snow. And I am so afraid of cold.

The taxi driver said I can stay in his living room until the next morning when everything opens again and he lives close to where I live. I don´t know how I accepted his offer. I just felt such a genuine intention from him wanting me to help. My rational mind tells me now was I totally out of mind? At the same time I saw this person that night and I so strongly felt he wanted to help me, he wanted to help another human being who was very much in distress. I trusted my intuition that night.

I spent the next couple of hours on his sofa without sleeping, just sitting and waiting for the sun to shine. This gentle, kind-hearted driver quickly tidied up his living room to make me feel welcome. He locked himself to his room to make me feel safe. The next morning he gently looked if I was awake.  He insisted to buy me breakfast at the bakery downstairs and then drove me home immediately. He asked me if I needed anything else, told me to take good care of myself, he wished me well and just went. I will be grateful to him forever, to this person with a big and gentle heart. He made me feel safe and secure in the middle of a nightmare. He showed me how much we humans need each other and that you cannot be always alone and always strong.

I could never stop thinking about what has happened that night. In hindsight, I could have done so many other things instead of trying to go to this friend. I could have directly gone to the hospital nearby and could have waited there, I could have gone to a cafe and asked them for help, I don´t know I have had other options. In hindsight. When you are desperate, scared, alone and cold though, suddenly your mind abandons you.

For a long time, I accused myself of not having properly thought through and having taken extreme risks for my life. Anything could have happened that night. I felt almost ashamed of not having managed. One day though, I realized I had to live this story. This was my story, that significantly contributes to the person I am now. I now embrace what I have done then.

That night showed me how alone I was in Cologne and that my safe and secure job was not my whole life. My job could not be my family, nor my shelter, nor my friends. I needed my real friends, who have been my family and my history. I realized how vulnerable I was, despite playing the strong towards myself and others. I realized how much I did not feel at home in Cologne. And I realized how much I need a big, warm human heart.

That morning I decided to leave  Cologne. Two months later I left.

 As a body everyone is single, as a soul never.

Herman Hesse

 

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