I feel like I’ve quantum leapt into someone else’s life. After discovering the royal heritage of Seppi, and coming down from the heights of the dolomites, Seppi and I had a few days to kill in Munich. I took him to my favorite junk store, and as we waited in line for them to open, I got a call. It was, Arne, my new boss. He was calling me on a Friday, I started my first office job that Monday, and he wanted me to fly to California with him on Tuesday. Thus was the tone set for the next month. Insanity.
If only I had the time and energy, this first week of my first job, would be it’s own mad-cap post. That Monday I sat at a temporary desk, didn’t know anyone, had nothing to do, and felt like a sinking stone. Arne gave me some of his home GoPro footage to see if I could cut into an ad for our headphones, and I frantically texted away to people back in Texas, wondering what I had done. An office, a 9 to 5, a salary, health care, someone looking over my shoulder. Even now I feel myself feeling a little queasy.
We flew direct to LA from Munich the next day. Arne, Alex, and Laurence, from Munich, and the strange little man from Texas driving them around, pointing out things, explaining how paying the check worked, constantly telling them stories from my freelance adventures in an attempt to gain credibility.
I felt more in common with the Freelancers from LA, but they related to me as the client. Arne brought me along to shoot behind the scenes, so I drove them around, Arne woke me up one morning so I could take him surfing, I introduced them to the heights of Trader Joe’s pre-made salads, and the lows of Trader Joe’s store-brand beer.
After returning to Munich I had a short week in the office, at a more permanent desk, I tried to make a few things for the company, but they lacked what Matthias, our Head of Brand, described as “The Fun.” The presence of “The Fun” is mandated in our video guidelines document that no-one had bothered to show the video guy. Perhaps this is because my titles is bafflingly and meaninglessly, “Motion Designer.”
I moved in the middle of all this, too busy and frantic to even document leaving the wretched apartment. I left Nick and Dan the same as when I found them.
Then BANG off to Texas for 2 weeks, shooting Western Perspective, and taking a big draught of what my life in Austin was like. There was a party, partially at my behest, and before I knew it there were 20-some odd people there, and my friend Mike made me hold an impromptu press conference to take questions about my life in Germany. People asked about the beer, they always do.
We shot Western Perspective in a whirlwind, I made amateurish mistakes because I was out of practice, but we did well, and it was the classic trio that went off to West Texas five years ago to shoot some thing that didn’t have a title. After every episode we always say, “This is it, this is the last one.” But if we can still put one together while I live in Germany, and Cara has a 6 month old baby, Western Perspective may live on forever. I’m cutting the show in my free time now, and I’m trying to figure out the classiest way to ask some of my work pals to come and watch it when it is done. I loved doing that back home.
So then, I was back, back to the office, back to my life, and now some sort of strange regularity began blossoming. I dragged people from the office to Munich’s first craft beer fest, I’ve helped Kaloyan, my Bulgarian office buddy, repair his bike, I’ve found a fellow American in the office, and when we talk together it’s like a warm blanket. But as I was setting up for a shoot the other day she caught me listening to the Kingston Trio, and told me her dad liked them. She’s turning the corner on 40 next year, and when we talk I’m the weird old man. In many ways, life seems weirdly familiar.
I came back from Texas to epic, history making rains in Germany, so I spend a lot of my time looking out the office window hopefully and desperately, my weather obsession continues. Germans keep apologizing to me about the rain, and the going theory is that climate change has shifted all the seasons over by a month, and we are still in the end of spring here. On Friday the trains broke at 3, and by 5 I was walking through the office in my cycling gear, getting laughs, but ready to explode out into the Bavarian country side. Stefano, an Italian who is working on the e-commerce side of things wants to be my bike friend, I can tell. I am worried he’s stronger and faster than I am, but if we ride together maybe I can be fast and strong like the Italian wind, too.
Last night was a birthday party for our head of HR, so I got to properly socialize with a lot of people. Lorena, from Spain, can’t pronounce my name properly, but she’s fully obsessed with Harry Potter, and that’s all I want to talk to her about. She read book one at age 11, and has since read the entire series in Spanish, Catalan, German, and English. She has not been to the Harry Potter land in Orlando, but I am campaigning for her to go. It’s the most like being able to live inside a fictional world of any place I’ve ever been. Dayana, from Bulgaria, cornered me on the porch for a while, and asked me if I believe in souls, and claimed that she could tell I was a Capricorn within minutes of meeting me. Stefano, Kaloyan, and I stood in a corner, drinking gin and tonics for a while talking about the experience of dating German women. Friedrich, our head of sensors at work, was wearing toe-socks, and at work he wears only toe-shoes. I couldn’t resist, I had to ask why, and his answer was simple, he wishes he could be barefoot all the time, and this is the closest he can get and still be professional. He then told me his concerns about the build quality of his latest pair.
So, the evolution of my move to Germany continues. Surrounded by fascinating characters, I can’t resist asking everyone I meat, “What is your story?”
There’s a million stories, and I can barely tell a few of them. I am enjoying this strange bend in the road, I’m seeing things, doing stuff, and living a life that I could never have imagined. I don’t know if it’s better or worse than anything else, but it sure is different. How I think of it now is that the German experiment has been a success, and I am now soaking in it. I will do my time, and I will keep meeting people, I will ride my bike, and I will drink more beer. But I can feel, far down deep, the call of Texas, how much I miss my family, my cat, my friends, and my cat. A return isn’t soon, but I can feel that a return is out there somewhere in a year or two. But first I have to bask in the Bavarian summer I’ve been waiting so long for.