I first lived in Berlin for a short spell in 2014. I’m not, by any means, financially well-off now, but back then, in some ways, it was even harder. I was several years into a period in my life where I had to make “meals,” regularly, of the most high-fat, high-protein foods I could find — a couple grams of chocolate, a generous cup of full-fat milk — just so that I could minimize my hunger and stretch the time between meals (because meals = money).
And how did I entertain myself on such a budget? I spent a lot of time reading, writing… or taking very long walks.
On one of these nighttime walks, I passed through a quiet, after-hours Nikolaiviertel, Berlin’s quaint, 13th century neighborhood in the district of Mitte. There, a stack of breathtaking bracelets in a Swarovski shop window stopped me short. I was mesmerized by how they glittered. White and champagne and silvery-gray and the the rich blues and fuchsias of swirling, deep-space nebulas. They were called, aptly, Stardust bracelets.
I’ve never been much of a fine-jewelry person; quite simply, fine jewelry was always beyond my means. But I ADORED these bracelets and wished I could have one.
Then I just willed myself to forget about that, never telling anyone. Because when could I ever have one? Why bother?
Within a few months, completely out of money and not sure how to pull myself back up, or even where to go to try building a life for myself, I went back to Pennsylvania. From that point, I spent almost two years living with my family, figuring those answers out. Eventually, I had saved just barely enough to leave again and decided to go back to Berlin. I wanted to believe that this time would be different: that I could get a visa, stay, get my feet on the ground solidly, and thrive.
Shortly before I went back to Germany, my aunt presented me with a little, blue, square Swarovski box. She’d received a free gift, which wasn’t her style. Did I want it?
I opened the lid. It was a Stardust bracelet. In a shade of purple, no less. (Purple being my favorite color!)
Immediately, I recalled my silent, secret wish. Really, it had been more like an idea than a wish because I never even really dared to “wish” for a Stardust bracelet. It seemed so far beyond the realm of possibility. Beyond the limits of (my) reality.
Yet there it was. Offered to me. For free. Right before I returned to Berlin.
I took this gift as a hopeful sign that, this time around, I would not be nearly so hard-up in the city. That I could get on my feet. That blessings and comforts that had been previously out of my reach would be out of my reach no longer.
I’ve been fortunate in this regard. Indeed, on this trip to Berlin, I did manage to get a visa, stay longer, and begin building a beautiful new chapter in my life in this place. Money might still be tight, but I very rarely resort to subsisting off chocolate squares and milk — unless I’m so busy that I forget to eat! To this extent, life has benevolently fulfilled some of the “promises” that this bracelet seemed to suggest.
But just as importantly, I was, and still am, over-awed by the fact that this gift of a Stardust bracelet had proved a very important truth:
Things you once believed were out of your reach can come into your world now and any time in completely unexpected ways, and you need not find a way “how.” Heaven knows your needs AND your wants and does not forget them — even after you, yourself, do.
Life can bring you beautiful gifts at any time.
And I hope it does for you. Today. And always.
Think of an object with great personal significance to you. Something that came into your life in a way that made you feel a sense of wonder and connection to something bigger. A vast and benevolent, embracing love. Let yourself steep in that sense of gratitude and wonder again. Know that there are no limits to the Universe’s ability to bless you. Whether or not that object is physically still in your life, its impact on you has served its purpose. Write about it.
Want to unbox your gifts? Read about the Unboxing Challenge here and here, or follow lalabelle.rose on IG.
*You can read an earlier version of this story, from before my return to Berlin, here or here.