The art of the story
„Cheers to life“
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The words just burst out of his mouth. Stanislav seems cheerful and dynamic. It’s hard to imagine that this athletic man barely escaped death two years ago. Back then, Stanislav was nothing but skin and bones. He was alcoholic, homeless. “I drank far too much for years, my liver was wrecked,” says the 46-year-old.
Two strokes of fate changed this life: In April 2019, Anna, his girlfriend and great love, passed away. Never before had anyone meant as much to him as she did, says Stanislav. But their relationship was accompanied by large amounts of alcohol – making it ominous and without a future at the same time. Anna died of liver failure.
“If you keep this up, you might as well dig another hole for yourself,” the doctor had told him shortly before Anna’s funeral. He was almost right: A few days after the funeral, Stanislav collapsed on the street. Not liver failure, but a stroke. He was in a coma for eleven days.
The pain of loss and the fear for his own life. This flipped a switch in Stanislav. He hasn’t had a sip of alcohol since. “Not even on birthdays,” says the Berlin native, a bit of pride resonates in his voice. Thanks to medical care and medication, he got his addiction under control. More than that, Stanislav is off the streets. He lives with a friend and dreams of having an apartment to himself. If possible, he would also swap Hinz&Kunzt sales for a regular job. The German-Polish man knows that these next steps will be difficult.
After all, his last job was well over ten years ago. Back then, he worked on construction sites in Hamburg, says the trained carpenter: “Always self-employed. Often under the table. For more than twelve years.” Stanislav was nevertheless satisfied, because for him anything was better than helping with the harvest in a Polish village. But this is the life he would have led if he had stayed with his parents, he says. They had taken over his grandparents’ small farm in the 1980s. To continue there? A nightmare for the pubescent teenager.
When he turned 18, Stanislav ran away. He stayed with relatives in Hamburg. If there was no work, Stanislav went “zappzarapp. He underlines his words with a hand gesture that lets someone else’s property go into his trouser pocket.
He assures that he is finished with theft and alcohol. What else is he missing, apart from an apartment and a job, to make him happy? Stanislav looks surprised, as if he doesn’t quite understand the question. Then he says: “My liver is recovering. That rarely happens, my doctor says. So I’m already very, very lucky.”
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Text: Jonas Füllner
Foto: Mauricio Bustamante