Picture by Nelli Palomäki

A year has passed since my impromptu landing at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport after my Latin America debacle.

Some progress has unarguably been made since that melodramatic episode. Had my future ever been more uncertain?

It was early morning when I arrived in Paris with a small backpack and hiking shoes, after almost two days of travels. Buenos Aires –> Atlanta –> New York –> Paris. Donald Trump was on the background screens during my dazed wait in the US. I got moved to tears when I ate my first pretzels & hummus at JFK airport after weeks of shortage. I thought: “Civilisation”. It gave me some courage to face my destiny.

My neighbour on the New York-Paris flight, a classy French lady in her 60s, told me about her life as a trend setter and how she migrated to New York in the 70s. In return, she asked many questions about me, but I wasn’t sure what to divulge or not regarding the most recent events of my life. I tried to be concise and explained that I jumped on the first affordable flight from Argentina to Europe as I was nearing the backlash following the breakup with my transgender girlfriend that led me to cry all over Patagonia, with a bad trip peak in Ushuaia which was probably the lowest I ever felt in my entire life. I added that I had no flat, job or project, no plan waiting for me whatsoever. Over the course of four months, I had left a secure corporate job, an arty warehouse, and a partner. She replied that she used to have a neighbour who was dressing like a woman, that I should get a haircut to refresh a little, and that I would easily get a job cause I seemed to have inner resource. We said goodbye at the passport check and I stopped at the bathroom to paint my lips red before going ahead to shape the rest of my life. I hadn’t landed in my own country since 2009. It was weird holding a citizen passport after years of queuing in the foreigners line.

A guy on the Paris underground noticed that I looked lost and asked me where I was coming from. He told me that Atlanta is the largest airport in the world.

There was a cold wave that week. I was freezing after weeks in the Southern Hemisphere. All my clothes were scattered between London and São Paulo. The detail that strikes me the most is that I didn’t even have socks. I had one pair on my feet, which a hostel owner in Argentina had given me from his ex-girlfriend. I could tell the whole story of my Latin America debacle just from the perspective of all the objects that I lost and received along the way. On my first days in Paris, two friends gave me socks, funky ones. I’ll never forget that. C gave me polka dot black socks and an adaptor to charge my phone. ε gave me shiny grey socks and a designer dress which made me regain about 5% of self-esteem. I was counting my self-esteem recovery in percentage to give myself credit for each step because my soul was so bruised and my situation was so shitty.

For months, every aspect of my life was on hold. I didn’t work, date or have a regular home for an extended period of time. It was above my strength to go out to the world and try to live a “normal life” again. I arm-wrestled myself to recover some sense of enthusiasm.

A year later, it’s still challenging to me to recall, rationalise and describe what really occurred in Patagonia. Was that a metaphorical death and rebirth at the End of the World? For all I know, I’m glad I didn’t really die in Ushuaia, but that’s by far the most extreme thing I’ve ever lived, like a near death experience. Everything on the inside and outside of my world, which was holding my physical and mental pieces together, coordinated to collapse at the same time. It utterly felt like I was poured gasoline on the inside and someone stroke a match. It sounds over dramatic, but well, it was.

I like the word ‘Gasoline‘. Because there’s my name in it. Because of the Sia song. And because I love stuff that burns like hell. Of course if I was given the choice to rewrite the story, I would live that journey again in the exact same circumstances, with the exact same amount of pain to increase my pain threshold. I assume all my decisions. I love my life most of the time. I guess I wouldn’t trade it, even with all the gasoline moments which have been punctuating it.

There’s a constant factor which has always been compensating for the gasoline, though. That’s all the good souls who’ve helped me heal the burns along the way. So many cool things have been happening since I got back here. ε got me not only shiny socks, but a job and a flat. It’s odd to live in my country of origin after years. I spent most of my adult life abroad. I’m trying to tame its normative mentality and flaws. I’ve always felt conflicted about France. But I’m able to see its beauty too. So many people have to knife their right to be here, which was granted to me just by birth.

Today, on the anniversary of that unplanned new beginning, I am trying to formulate a mantra for gratefulness. I have many socks now, and a chest of drawers to store them, in a flat which I am sharing with π, a cool and abnormally smart girl. We laugh a lot. We are a duet of sophisticated loners. I get a sense of family which I had lost for some time. I am embracing a couple of new careers. I work in contemporary art where I have a new family too. This week, I walk every morning to my art therapy training at Sainte-Anne psychiatric hospital. I am studying to become a dance therapist. I have made many new core friends over the last year. Who said it gets difficult to build true friendships as we get older? That’s bullshit. My ability to build true friendships is stronger than ever.

I’m learning how to drive with an African teacher who turns up in flip flops and makes jokes about him being illegal when we see the police. I’m learning how to sing. I’m learning. I’m learning.

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‘Inkeri and Annikki’ by Nelli Palomäki

Glamorous Homelessness


I’ve disappeared.

Some people have been asking me where in the world I currently am. I also have a hard time following my own peregrinations. Things didn’t quite turn out the way I planned.

So. What happened?

I last posted in November from Buenos Aires, at the beginning of my Latin America adventures.


In a nutshell: I went to Brazil. I proposed someone to marry me. She said yes. Actually, she said “Of course!” And everything collapsed in front of my eyes in the course of 7 days. I left Brazil at the beginning of 2017 to explore Patagonia alone. I had big highs and big lows. I hit the bottom of sadness as I hit the bottom of the world, in Ushuaia. Because I couldn’t go any more down geographically and emotionally, I knifed my way to the surface again.

From the Land of Fire, I jumped on a plane to Buenos Aires. There was a heat wave in the metropolis. One day, as I was walking to the Recoleta cemetery to visit Evita’s grave, I was hit by the certitude that my trip was over. I had seen what I wanted to see and lived what I had to live.

I prepared my emergency exit, spending hours figuring out how to get my ass to Europe ASAP. Anywhere in Europe. The cheapest destination occurred to be Paris, my birth place. The day after, I was flying back “home” on a two day journey via Atlanta and New York. Trump was omnipresent in the background of my US stops. I realised it wasn’t a joke anymore.

I landed in Paris-Orly on a Tuesday morning at the end of January. It was my first time landing in my home country since 2009. First time I was lining up in the “Citizens” passport check in 8 years. There was a cold wave. I had no clothes with me, just a little backpack, cause I have left all my stuff in Brazil. My belongings are scattered across 3 countries.

I contacted a very few friends to open me their door because I don’t have a home right now anywhere in the world.

My friend C welcomed me with croissants for my back home breakfast and gave me tights, socks and an adaptor to charge my phone. That was 23 days ago.

Since then, everyone has been donating me clothes. Beautiful ones. So I feel like a super glamor homeless.

I’ve been hanging out in people’s homes while they’re working. I’m offering myself the luxury to process my emotions as a full time job. I’m not trying to distract myself. I barely go see things or do anything. I’m spending most of my time seating alone to preserve the exact nature of my intense emotions. The last few months have been the most extraordinary, challenging and earth-shattering of my life.

I’m writing this in London, at the Circus Cafe in Crouch End. London is one of my energetic centres. There’s 6 years of my life here. I sleep in a whole lot of different beds and sofas. I love it. I am surrounded by an army of good souls who open me their door and provide me with everything I need, may it be a bed for the night, breakfast, words of comfort or Dragon Red Chanel nail polish. In exchange, I tell life stories, listen to life stories, and do the washing up.

I’m also hanging out in London to consult a transgender woman therapist. She’s bad ass. I pay £97 per hour and she holds the sessions in socks. I take off my shoes too and we become super casual. She told me that she revealed herself in Berlin in the 80s, “like David Bowie”. Everyday after work, she would take off her male suit and hang out at the Kit Kat Klub where she grew to be the woman she was born to be. I adore her already. She says that I become animated when I talk about my writing. She told me: “You’re going to write that book and I want a copy.” So I must do it.

I’m going to experiment glamorous homelessness in Berlin next. I’m going on Tuesday. I have no plans. I want to spend my days in free art galleries and write my book in cafés. And maybe reconnect with my queer dancer late at night in interlope clubs?

This is my life as of now. I love it. I love my life. I’ve never felt that much centred and that much awake in the present moment. I know I’m on the right track, as in MY track.

I’ll return to a more structured life sooner or later. I was proposed a flat-share in Paris. I said YES! So, by the spring, all my scattered belongings will converge to the 13th arrondissement. I’ll store my suitcases under my bed and I’ll have an address and a job again.

I’m truly excited about that perspective.

Till then. Anything can happen. I’m wide open. Life is fab.