Who am I? Who do I want to be? The answers seemed simple in my late teens and early twenties: I am the son of small business owners in a little town in Bavaria. I have an extended circle of friends. We are progressive, aspiring intellectuals, good at math and physics. I want to travel, while staying true to my German roots. I will probably live in the house my grandparents built, but Munich, the large city 20 miles away, is an option. I’m pretty sure I will like girls once I get to know them better.
My father dies of cancer when I am 23. My mother drinks too much and fights with my older sister. My home town feels very confining. I venture out on explorations. First the Netherlands, then an extended visit to California. When I return, I notice how dark and cold winters are in this small town. I need more sun. I need to get out. Sex with women is not something that feels better as you get used to it.
Graduate school, California sunshine, all the world is laid out for me. Is there any limit to this? But, like in the tortoise and the hare, wherever the hare dashes too, the tortoise is already there. The tortoise is my old me. Will I ever get anywhere while carrying my old stuffy me around?
Then, without noticing it at first, I take root in the warm California soil. I thought, I would just enjoy the sun for a little while and then head back. But pulling up these roots is harder than I thought. I think I like it here.
“You don’t move an old tree.” is one of my mother’s saying when my sister and I suggested that she move in with my sister as she is getting frail. Young trees establish themselves quickly, I learn. I still don’t have “a plan”, a grand scheme for my life. But looking back, it is easier to appreciate the hard work I put in, to recognize the pattern of growth, to see the strong base I built. On this strong base, I construct a flexible life that can bend with the storms without breaking.
Today, I share our home in Los Angeles with my loving husband Jeff, I am enjoying my work and I am committed to continue my growth. In all these years, I have never been able to decide what I want to do next through quiet contemplation. I had to go out into the scary world, do something new and see how it fit. I have many interests, some are passing and others keep coming back to slowly nudge me in a new direction, or hit me over the head until I am ready to listen.
I know that I am a gay man by nature, a scientist by passion, a writer by talent, and an American by choice. I engage with the world through my my work in engineering, the time I volunteer as a counselor, and through the love I share with my husband, our family and friends.
This is the place where I share some of my stories. The place where the sometimes neglected, sometimes nurtured writer in me comes to play.