Five years ago, I started wearing bracelets to remind me of particular memories or strengths of mine; although some bracelets get replaced, my wrist was hardly ever bare. I chose to write an essay mirroring The Things We Carried by Tim O'Brien: I wanted to be reminded of my personal values and the significant moments in my life through mundane objects which I associate with a complex emotion.
January 2014: Disco Ball. Black diamonds. Beverly Hills, California.
I got the Disco Ball two days before the Golden Globes. She was a gift from Lorraine Schwartz – an American Jew who deals jewelry to celebrities for red carpet events.
We met in a hotel room in Beverly Hills’ Peninsula hotel, bustling with anxious celebrity stylists (Kim Kardashian’s and Sofia Vergara’s to name a few). She was a woman with strong features sitting in the middle of a plethora of jewels, lace and leather with a halo of graying hair.
It was the only day that I could have some sort of exposure to the elite Hollywood world. Having a behind-the-scenes scope of this illusionary world was bittersweet; it was the life that I knew I wanted, yet couldn’t have. Upon noticing the excitement in my eyes, Lorraine chose a bracelet in a pile and swiftly fastened her on my wrist.
“How much?” my mother asked.
“Take it,” Lorraine responded. “I want to remind Natasha of the fact that this world always will exist for her.”
With her on my wrist, 2014 became a year of open doors. I had the opportunity to audition for Gary Spatz’s The Playground – a prestigious acting school in Los Angeles – and was part of the 10% that got selected to attend their classes. For a moment, I felt powerful; the illusionary world was finally at my fingertips. But as time passed, the glitteirng idea of Hollywood (with the money, fame and success) wasn’t as exciting as I had anticipated.
On one fateful day, I lost her – I guess that world really wasn’t meant for me after all.
August 2014: Goldfish. Thread. Bali, Indonesia.
Upon returning from a trip into town, Mom bought a bracelet each for me and my childhood friend Chrysilla. I was told to take the first pick; however, since Chrysilla was a guest in our Bali home, I decided to give that privilege to her (I was praying she’d choose the Goldfish because I preferred the other one). Against all odds, I was stuck with the Goldfish.
I didn’t quite like the Goldfish at first; I despised her goggly eyes, chubby head, tangerine scales and slimy exterior. I never wore her. She only landed on my wrist to replace the Disco Ball. But as the Goldfish dwelled on my wrist for longer, I was slowly drawn in by her crudely goggly eyes. It wasn’t until last month when I finally realized – I was drawn to her eyes because they were my own.
I am the Goldfish. I swim around restlessly day and night with hopes that I will somehow break through this bubble of protection; I desire to be understood – yet my language only consists of unfathomable bubbles; and there are times when I just want to break out of this oppression and explore more of the world through my searching goggly eyes.
September 2015: Star of David. Crystal and beads. Jerusalem, Israel.
To me, for the longest time, she was just a religious emblem. But I started wearing her after I received her as a gift from Mom.
At about eight o’clock at night, Mom burst into my bedroom bearing gifts as she always does upon returning home from trips overseas. She pulled out a lavender box with engraved Hebrew characters and pushed it to me.
“Another one?” I whined upon seeing the Star. I had always received gifts with this symbol ever since I was a child, but I could never comprehend what it meant.
Mom explained that she was a reminder of my Jewish heritage; a reminder that my ancestors shed blood because they have carried the emblem as a symbol of pride and pushed through to eventually emerge victorious from all their hardships.
Now, whenever I feel weak or belittled, I look to her to remind myself that I will always be protected by my bubble – my faith in Christ – no matter what happens.
April 2016: Marc by Marc Jacobs Standard Supply ID. Silver. Jakarta, Indonesia.
She arrived in a little black velvet pouch, glittering with the idea that it was a birthday present from my friend Nadia.
“Open it,” Nadia urged. “It’s just a little thing that me and my mom picked out. I hope you like it!”
This rusted pendant dangling on my wrist quickly became the most worn-out bracelet of the four. She’s a dainty little thing, a sterling silver bracelet tarnished by bronze specks. People say that she looks disgusting now with her rusted exterior; however, her staying on my wrist is justified by the story that I am about to tell.
She arrived two months after I broke up with my boyfriend. I handled the situation well; yet, I could still recall the regret in his voice –– how he let the bouquet of roses wilt with time, how he let the torn photograph of us sprawl carelessly on the rosewood. He dreaded the fact that I was happier without him, wishing that he could undo his mistakes.
But after tripping over one of the emotional post-breakup hurdles that I couldn’t avoid, I became overwhelmed with anxiety. I plunged into a period of utter silence (this was unlike my usual extroverted self), which my friends started to notice. They tried to knock down my barriers, inviting me to more social events and prompting me to engage in more activities to take my mind off things.
The support system I had encouraged me to pop the confining bubble around me and emerge from it. Without my friends, I wouldn’t resurge and revert back to the extroverted person that I once was. She, the silver trinket, was a reminder of this – no matter what I’m going through, I will always have a support system by my side. That little gesture from Nadia, now one of my close friends, represents how my new life was sure to forge friendships that I know will last for decades to come.