• Xander Turian

The First Year of Many

Updated: Jul 23, 2019

One year ago today I returned to Berlin after having the most amazing few weeks on the Italian Island of Ischia where I attended the Ischia International Film Festival and Bernard Hiller Love Masterclass.


During that trip and the weeks before while I was in Zürich, I had been working with my mentor, Francisco [Javier Medina] and we had had breakthrough after break through together while working on personal development, business strategies and career management.


On the day that I returned to Berlin I had plans to meet Jojo [von Salmuth] for a walk to talk about us.



The journey from friends to life partners was not so straight forward. When we had met at Francisco’s workshop in Prague that February we instantly became friends. Then during the Berlinale Film Festival we spent most of our time together, staying out late, talking and getting to know each other as our friendship grew stronger.


It wasn’t until I booked a trip with Adam [Vacula] to go to Berlin and have meeting with a few agents that I began to realise that my feelings for Jojo were more.


I remember one night during that trip when a group of our acting friends all met up and we went to a smoky club by Hackersher Markt. Jojo was sharing her ideas about the male and female roles in society and how she felt that the extreme views of what society deemed to be equality was not in her opinion, she also shared ideas for movies she was writing and wanted to produce and make and she spoke so passionately and with such intense vision and it was in that moment that I knew I had fallen in love with her.


I walked her home and we discussed her movie ideas further and we hugged and said good bye.



I was not sure if she felt the same and I did not want to ruin our beautiful friendship. When I was back in Prague we would talk on the phone for hours, laughing and sharing our goals and dreams in life. I finally made the decision to ask if she would go on a date with me the next time we met. She said yes. I was so happy and slept with a smile on my face that night.

The next morning I woke up to a text message from her and was instantly reminded of the prospect of our date and was excited to read what she had written.


In the message she explained that she had changed her mind and did not think that going on a date would be a good idea. She was sorry and said that she understood if I did not want to have any contact for a while.


I was rather deflated but I thought no harm no foul. I replied saying that I understood and that I was happy to stay friends and that I would rather be friends than to not have any contact at all as she meant so much to me.



A few weeks later we met again in Vienna where we were going to attend an acting master class with Bernie [Hiller]. I was staying in a flat with Francisco and Adam near to the venue of the workshop. On the first day that we arrived in Vienna Jojo and I met up for a walk and went for lunch and a cup of tea. The first moment I could tell that there was a slight awkward energy between us, but it quickly disappeared as we relaxed into our usual flow of conversation.


That workshop was a tough one and we all had a lot of things to work through. The exercises pushed us to depths within ourselves that were buried deep and the revealing of them brought up a lot of emotions. It was tough at the time, but much needed in the long run.

After that trip I knew that I could not let go of the draw I felt between Jojo and I. I had a feeling that she also wanted more but was afraid. I knew that if there was ever going to be a chance to explore what could be I had to be closer to her. That was when I decided to move to Berlin after I graduated from Prague Film School.



That summer in Berlin I spent half of my time in German class, trying to learn the language, and the other half of my time at the Jivamukti Yoga studio where Jojo worked. I would go and do yoga every day and then sit and eat at the canteen and do my German homework. Jojo and I hung out and I allowed our friendship to blossom in its own course.


After a few weeks I asked her again if she would like to go on a date and spend time as more than just friends, explaining that I felt something more between us. She asked to think about it and then again returned with a no, explaining that she just wanted to be friends and that she was afraid of losing me because I also meant to much to her.



During that summer we attended a few workshops together, one of which was in Cologne, Francisco’s home town.

Jojo and I took the 6 hour train journey there together, and again, like our first meeting in Vienna, the energy felt strained at first. We eventually watched a movie together and laughed and relaxed. When we arrived we each were staying at different sides of the city so went our separate ways.


I chose to focus my energy elsewhere during that class and gave Jojo space. She flourished as always and we both had a great time getting to know new people.


On the last day we had to run to our train and made it just in time. Sweaty, exhausted and happy to have made it on to our train we took our seats and enjoyed the trip back home, laughing and talking and eventually falling asleep leaning on one another.



Back in Berlin our friendship was as strong as ever again and we spent time walking, talking, eating ice cream and sharing our thoughts with each other. Jojo asked me for advice on some things and I gave her shoulder to cry on, an ear to talk to and the friendship she needed.


In my mind I had decided to listen to what she had said and trust her words, we were better off as friends.


When the time came to fly to Zürich I flew a day early with Francisco and a girl who had attended the workshop in Cologne.


A group of us were staying together in a friend’s guest house and this girl and I ended up sharing a bed. During that trip she and I hooked up, oddly I felt as though I was cheating on Jojo, almost as though I was cheating on myself, but I couldn’t understand why and chose to ignore the feeling.


Jojo arrived on the second day of the workshop as she had a dance performance with her company, KAMA. When I saw her come around the corner I was floored, it was like a sledge hammer hit me in the heart and I knew why I had the feelings of guilt. My heart belonged to her.



The rest of that trip presented a dilemma for me. I did not want to hurt either girl’s feelings by either being close to someone in front of Jojo or by rejecting a girl I had been so close to just a day before.


On the last day we all went on a hike. I spent my time talking to everyone and eventually split off and walked with Francisco. After a while Jojo joined us and when we arrived at the destination where we were going to have lunch Jojo confronted me angrily asking why I kept staring at her so strangely. I had no choice but to admit to her that I was checking her out. Her reaction was pure bliss, she couldn’t help but smile and she said, “oh, ok, that’s fine then”


Later that day we all went swimming. A few of us arrived a little bit after the rest of the group and as we arrived I saw them walk past. Just as they headed round the corner Jojo caught my eye and of course the other girl was the last in the group – Jojo proceeded to flick me in the head and turn to her friend exclaiming in German that I was checking out the other girl, who happened to be the last person in the other group to turn the corner. I couldn’t help but be giddy and a huge smile grew across my face, because I knew in that moment that she cared about me too.

The rest of that day we were close, talking, hugging, walking together and sitting next to each other all the way until she left to catch her flight back to Berlin.



That night I sent her a message saying that I had already made my move twice and been rejected, if she wanted more now, then the ball was in her court and she had to make the next move. I told her that we could take some time while I would be in Ischia for 2 weeks and that we could meet up and talk when I got back.



One year ago today was the day I returned to Berlin after my 2 weeks in Ischia. Jojo and I met and went on a walk. I could feel that the energy was different. It was a beautiful summer night and as we walked along the river I noticed how she began to put her hair up, we walked near a bridge and stopped to look at the water which was reflecting the city lights, we looked into each other’s eyes and we kissed. We kissed and we smiled, hearts racing as we both knew that we each felt the same way.



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