Do you think you can really start your life from scratch?

In my experience, yes.

My first 27 years have little to do with my present existence.Much of it has also dipped into Nirvana, no longer relevant, the little that has remained to me from that time is fragmentary, irrelevant and, moreover, often negatively tainted, actually forforgetting. But I have actually forgotten a lot:

A few years ago – we had just returned to Switzerland from Mexico – I got a mysterious call.The guy had read one of my posts on an online forum, I write everywhere with clear names, not just on Quora. And there aren’t that many Neth in Switzerland. I can also be found in the phone book.

So far so good.

I didn’t have the slightest idea who he was!He had told a few anecdotes that made me realize that he really knew me, from my apprenticeship in the late 1970s. But there was nothing left. He could just as well have claimed that as in a previous life as medieval wandering monks would have met us. The whole thing had been really shocking. What else could I have lost? Luckily, I had rarely been, certainly not at school, where I had hardly ever been noticed. No reason to go to the class meetings, hardly that I would remember anyone!

We live in my old place of work, where I was born and raised.I’ve met a few buddies from before. But no one could really do anything with the new Dieter any more. Married and with three grown-up children, you couldn’t imagine me, that wasn’t me at all, no, that’s not possible, it’s so different…… so extroverted, confident and hard to brake as if he had won the lottery.

This “new, improved version” of me has been available since May 5, 1989.But life started anew, I think I did that on March 5, 1990. From the predictable and well-fed Swiss province into the rough-and-white “Valley of the Lawless”, after Ciudad Juarez! There is hardly a greater contrast than that between the deep green grounds and hills where I was born and the stone kingdom, where, in addition to my “desert flower”, no flower may herald spring. Where everything literally seemed to me Spanish and you have to assert yourself if you want to move forward in life – and where everything was possible precisely because of that.

Everything I knew and could now become useless, my digestive system could not even digest the local diet at the beginning.The only person I could always trust 100% was my young wife, otherwise there was no one at the beginning. I was alone. Parents, family and friends were 10,000 km away, landline telephony was expensive, the time difference was enormous and the living conditions completely different – and internet did not yet exist. We both had to track everything up ourselves, there were just no parallels.

But also my training, my apprenticeship as a laboratory technician – Tempi passati.I would go very different ways now, do things that I would never have expected. It was actually the beginning of a new life, a life in the sun. Who can remember the clammy Oltner fog from the youth?

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