Auf Wiedersehen, hat lieb…

June 2nd, 2018

Dear Flo,

I think you are the love I will always, always remember. I will always wish, you will always wish, that we had met a few years later, that we had been born in the same country, that we spoke the language. I will wish you the best, from the bottom of my heart (the heart which you have filled up), and you will wish me the best, and we’ll keep being friends.

In another time and space, we would have started living together in a small, rented, student flat somewhere in Düsseldorf last year, laughing at each other’s choice of colour and design at the Ikea – well, you’d give in, of course. Like you almost always do. But I’d still pick a shade of green because I know it’s your favourite. In fact, green has grown on me and now it’s one of my favourites, too. Then we’d pick a font for our names – you probably would want a funny one or a standard one and I’d want a cursive – and hang a little nameplate over the doorbell.

We always wondered: Are we in love? Are we meant to be? Should we? But now I know, and you know, that we were never more in love. That this is love. You taught me how to love and trust and to be happy and to be silly.

All the names we had for each other – no sweethearts, honeys, darlings, but a language of our own. Words and phrases nobody else could understand, like it was our little secret. Yoi. Floi. Hugga. Hugtatorship. Angry sock throw. Tukka tukka. Alles Yois der ganzen weiten Welt. Pup. PUP. Boop. Bup. All our words, untransferable to anyone else and unique only to the two of us. Nothing compares – no darling, honey, or sweetheart will do. All our rituals – the way we boop our noses together, the way you pick me up and carry me around, the way I try to lift you off the ground, the way we play at being trains around the house, the way we follow Günther the cleaning robot around the house, the way you tukk me in at night. How I say baba? and you close the closet door so I can sleep sound. I will always remember. Always.

The way you know I need soup at every meal, the way you bring me creamy asparagus soup (Asparagus, because then we can have a good laugh about it) when I’m sick, the way you tell me what will be right for me because you know, the way you look at me always with those big brown eyes, the way there’s always Apfelschorle in the fridge and frozen vegetables you don’t ever eat when I’m there, the way you bat your eyelashes against mine so I can hear them, the way we yell “bear hug” and you hold me so tight I feel like I’m going to break

And I know that I will always compare – nothing will be the same now that I’ve known what love is. What trust is. What it means to know everything about another human being, to know that I am always, and really always, welcome where you are. That you will drop whatever you are doing when I’m around and forget about the rest of the world. That you will stay away from your favourite friends, your favourite games, for me. If I need that. That you will always put me first. Always. Over anything.

The doubts I have had. The fears. The panic. That you pushed aside for me. The times you’ve talked me down, hugged me until I fell asleep, the times you’ve tukked me into bed.

The way I wake you up in the morning with a glass of iced tea. The way you wait for me to order you pizza because then it is Yoi Pizza, which is the best pizza in the world. The way you come looking for me when I’m away from you for any longer than ten minutes, even if it’s me going into the kitchen and cooking like always. The way you walk away from me while looking at me still in the kitchen, making funny faces. The way you hug me at the train station. The way you take away my backpack and suitcase and won’t let me help you carry anything back from the Kaufland. The way you come with me to DM or to the Galeria and get bored but listen to me, then head to the toy store with a naughty smile. The way you finish my food, the way you help me order food because you know how much I can eat.

Because of you I am able to love. Love others that came after you. Love my friends. My family. Peter. You.

And I will never forget you.


Let Me Be / Let Me See / Let Me Blind You


If I could choose between having you and the love and the pain,
And not feeling anything at all,
And I choose to have nothing at all,
Will you call me cowardly, unloving, cold?

Have you ever felt this way?
That I am the centre of your world?
That you could not live without me?
That something is burning, aching, growing?
That I would do anything and everything for you, when you didn’t ask?
Like a hummingbird heartbeat, like the movies, the black and white ones.

That at nights when we lay together, I am gripped by fear and I want to run away.
That I stop myself from running away and hold you tight.
That I want to tell you everything and nothing about me.
That you have no idea what I want to tell you because I conceal myself like a cocoon.
That you don’t know anything about me because I only drop bite-sized pieces.
Because I feel like I will disappear when I’ve done with the Hansel and Gretel.
That you will consume me, and you will know who I am. One day.

Have you ever felt this way?

We cannot pick up the words that we scatter in the wind.
Which is why I cannot tell you.
Regardless of how many times the words tickle my tongue.
Which is why you say that I do not speak much of myself.

I want to protect me, me from you and you from me,
so we can rotate around each other like parallel universes.
Knowing enough, yet never too much.
Just enough to prepare ourselves for the time when our world snaps in two,
And to keep revolving.

I don’t want you to know me. But I want you to want to know me.
I want you to want me always, but I don’t want to want you always (but I do).

Because, I fear, ultimately,
That you will pick up all the shards of me I drop at strangers, and put them together.
Just like I always put together pieces of your life.
Do unto me what I would unto you. But don’t.

Because, one day we will return to being strangers.
I will walk across you on the street, and it will be like we had never met.

I don’t want to love you, but I do.


Dearest P,

I am writing you this open love letter, for the world to see, and maybe one day, for you to see too. In a way, this is no different from the olden days when lovers sent each other postcards across the Atlantic and at some point the postman would read them while munching on his sandwich over the 10-minute break he had. I wonder if one day I will let you know about this box of letters – but for now I’ll keep the lid shut. Maybe one day.

Today I watched a video on how to say I love you in Luxembourgish. Because I know that this will make you happy (although I know now that I am not the first to tell you so). Because you are taking me to the woods in Ëlwen (though Google Maps keeps telling us it’s Troisvierges) – now I’m only thinking about when to tell you. Today. Tomorrow. When we’re done mounting that Aliexpress tent in the forest. And in a way, it doesn’t matter. Names, do they matter? I am J and M and E and R, and different people call me different things.

Yesterday afternoon – the 23rd – I told you what I wanted. And you accepted. But there was a moment of hesitation. You don’t know. You don’t know what you want. I said I needed boundaries, because if we – if we let things develop the way they are doing right now, we’re headed in a certain direction which you do not want. But you do not know if this is something you really do not want.

And I thought – maybe you’re in your tongue piercing phase. So, there was a time I had a tongue piercing for a year because I had hurt people with the things that came out of my mouth. I was punishing myself. Hurting myself. I hope this is not, what you’re doing. I hope that, this is not the reason you’re moving away from this city you sometimes seem to hate.

I wonder if we ever love. If we ever love the next person more than the last. Because I remember wanting to die from not having Julian – the hazel-eyed German-Polish-Native American boy – love me back. I remember feeling broken after Y – who has now changed his name to Miles, and wears a suit and works as an accountant at Google – but that was thirteen years ago and I still sort of, miss him. I remember Jung-hyun, the girl I went to school with and whom I passionately, with all my heart, loved. But I can’t recall how I loved them. Nothing compares to the way I love you at this moment. And nothing compared to the way I loved F. Maybe it’s all an ephemeral cloud that drifts from place to place.

I love you but I don’t want to love you. But I do.

Yours truly,

Better Left Unsaid/Silent Cries

You didn’t tell me you didn’t want me to go.

I didn’t tell you I wanted you to be there always.

You didn’t tell me I was your everything.

I didn’t tell you you were the only one who mattered. That I wanted to stop looking for others because maybe, maybe you were the one.

You didn’t say, I want you forever.

I didn’t tell you, that I’d changed my life for you. That I’d changed my language for you. That I wanted so desperately to become a part of your life, like the tree that is submerged by a banyan. That I wanted to lose myself in your life.

You didn’t say, you’re the only one that matters.

I didn’t say, maybe for you I could put up a name plate with both our names.

You didn’t say, maybe you wanted a little blonde kid with curly hair and dark brown eyes.

I didn’t say, I love you.

Then you said I love you and I didn’t hear you then you said it again. Again, and again, and again. Until the words sank deep into my skin, leaving a bruise of yellow and purple and green on my upper arm, reminding me of the things that you had left unsaid. The things we had both left unsaid because we are afraid.

우리, 사랑하지 말아요.

Liebe Herr Jung, 

When I am in love I am afraid. You make me afraid. When I feel I might be in love, I run. You make me feel unstable, like a leaf blowing in the wind. I want to find all the reasons which prove you don’t really love me. That I don’t really love you – that it’s a wind blowing in the field, that it’s lust, that you’re a reflection of someone I never had. That you actually want to use me, for your comfort, for your convenience, to become a name on the list you will roll up and throw away at the backwaters of your memories once you’ve found her. That you see someone else in me. That you are pretending to be someone you are not.

When I was thirteen I went to the German psychotherapist in town. I sat in the brown armchair where the sunlight came through a round glass pane in the ceiling and told him, I don’t want to be happy because happiness goes awayAnd I don’t ever want to feel this way again.

우리 사랑하지 말아요 아직은 잘 모르잖아요 / 사실 조금은 두려운 거야 / 그대 미안해요
우리 약속하지 말아요 내일은 또 모르잖아요 / 하지만 이 말 만은 진심이야 / 그대 좋아해요

나를 보며 웃지 말아요 / 정들면 슬퍼져요 / 예쁜 그 미소가 눈물이 될까 봐
사랑이란 두 글자 속에 / 우릴 가두려고 하지 말아요 / 채우지 못할 욕심이니까

Portfolio Diversification

Kissing the best friend of a boy who I thought was too beautiful to love me after he asked me on a date, because I wanted to believe it wasn’t true. Falling for the girl who never looked at me in the same way you do. Loving a man who would never, ever love me.

Then you told me without speaking. Over, and over, and over again. Until one day, you were a part of me just the same way I was a part of you.

And I knew you would, I wanted to know that you would. That we would fall apart as all of the others did. We would break away and disappear from each other’s lives and we would find new love and become faded photographs. I want to believe that you were like all the others.

Romantics build walls. We build wall after wall because at the very bottom of things, we want to burn through all the walls when we meet you and stand naked. The problem is – there are so many times you can burn them down until you give up and say, that’s it. I’m upgrading to a Swiss-engineered vault. Calling it quits. Walking away with our heads held high – or rather, away from love.

We tell lies. To protect us from the people who have used our honesty against them. We pretend, that we do not care about people. We tell ourselves, that we do not trust people. We sneer and laugh and joke about the others. Those who believe, naively, blindly, and brilliantly. What we once were.

My mother told me, people who love others more than they should really want to be loved the same way. Maybe one day, I will tell you this. But, maybe you already know. Sometimes I suspect that this is the reason you love us. To forget that you want to be loved. To cut out the part of you that longs for forever and ever.

이렇게 당신이 읽지 못할 말을 적는 나.

Am I just a fool?
Blind and stupid for loving you
Am I just a silly girl?
So young and naíve to think you were the one who came to take claim of this heart
Cold-hearted, shame you’ll remain just a frame in the dark

The people are talking, the people are saying
That you have been playing my heart like a grand piano
The people are talking, the people are saying
That you have been playing my heart like a grand piano
So play on

Am I queen of fools?
Wrapped up in lies and foolish jewels
What do I see in you?
Maybe I’m addicted to all the things you do
‘Cause I keep thinking you were the one who came to take claim of this heart
Cold-hearted, shame you’ll remain just a frame in the dark

The people are talking, the people are saying
That you have been playing my heart like a grand piano
The people are talking, the people are saying
That you have been playing my heart like a grand piano
So play on

When We Were Young


Best Thing I Never Had

The first two boys I kissed work together cutting trees. They’re still best friends – I think. And I wonder if they ever talk about me. That a girl came between them once, a very long time ago. And I want to ask Jonas if he ever loved me.

One of the most beautiful men I have ever met became a junkie, and the sparkle from his hazel eyes withered. Once, I sat on the back of his motorcycle and thought, I hope we crash into a truck and die together. Because I knew and he knew that I knew that he was head over heels for a mysterious blonde tomboy who came into town from the Canary Islands with a Czech name. That much I knew – that I wanted him because I could never have him. Then I thought of Saint Lucia, with her eyes on a silver platter, and of Dr Disraeli from Earl Cain by Kaori Yuki, who loved all things ephemeral he could never own. Destroying all things beautiful and fragile because he thought they would never love him back quite the same.

The woman I idolised during my teens settled. For a guy called Kevin who is beneath her. For a job that doesn’t go anywhere. For her father’s Royal Dutch Shell money from the Congo. It never hit me, that she was going nowhere with her life and that’s maybe why she looked so strong and pretty. Like a doe lost in the middle of the Champs-Elysées.

Teenage Dreams

The fourteen-year old Dutch boy who insisted “in Holland, we fuck at thirteen”, and who ten years later, proposed to marry me as a joke, had a child in Sicily. With a women ten years his senior. I’m still not sure why, but I’m angry at him. At a future that was never mine and which I don’t want.

A lanky pre-teen Belgian who shyly asked me if I wanted to date him turned up with a low, raspy voice and shoulders large enough for a lion to lay on. He is less blond than he used to be, but the curls still twirl as he swings his head from side to side, and I wondered, maybe, just maybe, what I see in Dutch boys is a longing for the childhood I missed. Or perhaps, I see his father, whom I found equally beautiful, the bohemian who used to ride his Harley around Rajasthan and who laughed when a shy girl told him he looked like a philosopher.

Then there was Sebastian, the German-French boy who I found too beautiful that he surely, would never love me. He is an accountant at Google, and sometimes I look at his LinkedIn page, wondering if he ever thought about me through the years. And I think, we could have walked past each other in Dublin last year, and not even recognised each other. Sometimes I rehearse an apology fourteen years too late and sit down with him at an imaginary café in Strasbourg, and he tells me that it’s alright because he never loved me anyway – It was all a pre-teen concoction. Deep inside, I wish he’s remained single throughout the years because I mean as much to him as he did to me then, and then still today.

It Will Rain / I Kissed A Girl

Boarding schools sometimes have non-boarding students. They might be called daytime students. A minivan would pick twelve of us every morning at 6:45 and drop us off at 22:30. There was a girl I saw in the van who took Japanese and was in a different class. We never got to talk to each other except to complain about how late the bus was. One night, as we leaned into the van, lowering out tiny bodies into the seats, and I thought: I want to kiss her. Here and now.

I didn’t kiss a girl until last Friday.


Maantien Laitaa

If we could be free and want each other always. Want each other to be free and to want each other at the same time. If these days could last forever and we would never change.

If my world and your world could circle each other around the same axis in a never-ending parallel. If we would stay the way we are, all the  while adding rainbow-coloured layers to our souls. If one day we would mend the broken pieces and we would be whole, whatever whole is.

If you could be happy for me when I met another woman. If I could be happy for you when you met another man. If you could nod when I told you the painter with the blonde curls was beautiful and you said, yes, she is. If when you nodded I could feel free to walk up to her and I’d hold her in my arms and you would smile.


One day, I will wake up and see the light come through the jalousie in this house. This house that’s so comfortable and familiar, like you are. The light calls me, is nudging me to move on. Another day, you will walk through the kitchen and feel foreign in a place you’ve called home for all your life. All of its photos, all of the daisies you’ve tended to, the iittala dishes we picked out together. Those days, we will know that our orbs have shifted by a single milimeter and that the end has begun.

Saint Lucia & The Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage

Trust is a beautiful thing. Which means that it is easily broken. And once it is broken it cannot be mended, unless you’ve mastered the Japanese art of Kintsugi. Even then, we are humans, made of flesh and bone and minds that wander. Far.

People trust so easily here. They assume that nobody is out to get them. They do not worry about getting robbed in daylight. They do not fear a person who is nice to them wants something from them – money, connections, “face”. They do not worry that a person who sleeps in their apartment will take something from them. They do not buy laptop locks for the library. They buy group tickets with complete strangers from across the country – from s’Hertogenbosch to Hoorn to Kampen.

“But you are family” “Of course you can spend the night here” “You’re welcome to stay in my garden house” “But do take some cupcakes with you” “Do you want to stay here while I get us some food?”. Things you say but I would never say this soon. Maybe never. Because I want to assume that people are, on the deep inside of their minds, out to use others. Maybe this thought comforts me even though I wish it weren’t true. Like a house that is worn down but too comfortable, just like in Tokyo Tower (2004).

Kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken pottery
You say you want to spend the rest of your life with me, possibly. You say that I am beautiful, regardless. You say that you will never leave me. You say you’re afraid I will leave you one day for a beautiful Swede with long curly locks. And then I see what I see everyday in the mirror, but on the outside, like Alice Through the Looking-Glass. And I laugh. Then you laugh.

Fear of rejection. Of abandonment. Of feeling like I am everywhere and nowhere in the world, like “too much butter spread over too much bread”.

I dream that one day I will give you that card I bought years ago, the one that reads “You’re My Favourite Person In The World”. With its yellow and black writing from Harrod’s. I have tried, three times. To give it to you. But every time, a voice told me: They will leave you and then you’ll feel silly. Don’t let others leave you. You leave them.

saint lucia
Saint Lucia, who pulled out her eyes in order to devote her life to her true love and belief.
To sacrifice oneself, but not too much. To keep them off the world behind my wall. In a dream, I saw myself on a Sahara-like dune with a Norwegian fall sky. The dune was full of writhing jet-black branches and bushes made of scrawny arms. You stood on the other side of the branches and I saw you, but I saw not your face. Then I shot you.

I want to be able to say, I love you, without expecting anything from you. Without using it to make you love me more. Without making you change how you feel about me. I want those three words not to rip away a piece of me and get sucked into your being, like a puzzle. I want to not have to stop myself from saying this in my head to you every time you look into my eyes and tell me you love me without speaking.

The four letters weigh down on me like shards of glass. Feathers on a noose in my purple landscape. There’s too much attachment, too much meaning in them that I want to deny they exist. Instead, I say, I like youIch finde dich süß. Ik vind je leuk. Jeg leker deg. Like is a jam I can spread over several slices without feeling like I’ve been a glutton. Love is the nutella I put on the top shelf, and I kick away the Ikea stool. Auto-censorship is what it is.

I am sorry this is always how it goes
The wind blows loudest when you’ve got your eyes closed
But I never changed a single color that I breathe
So you could have tried to take a closer look at me
I am tired of punching in the wind
I am tired of letting it all in
And I should eat you up and spit you right out
I should not care but I don’t know how

So I take off my face
Because it reminds me how it all went wrong
And I pull out my tongue
Because it reminds me how it all went wrong

I am sorry for the trouble, I suppose
My blood runs red but my body feels so cold
I guess I could swim for days in the salty sea
But in the end the waves will discolor me