February 1, 2018
Beki Powell shared a memory.
10 Years Ago
This time 10 years ago, I was boarding a big ol’ jet plane, ready to trot my arse to Berlin. I don’t talk about it often. Why? Well, because at the time, Berlin felt like my special little secret - and like all juicy secrets, mine was eventually out. Of course I know a girl cannot keep a city to herself, but what can I say? I was in love, and I didn’t want to share the object of my affection.
In Berlin, I was a free woman. A soul floating in this desolate yet beautiful industrial dreamscape of a city. I was 20 years old, studying art and sociology at Humboldt Universität. The year was 2008. Everyone was rocking cool, androgynous haircuts and funky, colorful clothes. Minimal techno was the sound of the underground. I often found myself enveloped by bass-thumping, mind-melting beats. I went out dancing alone, for the first time in my life. No one bothered me. I could just let go and lose myself in the music.
I had no cell phone. Plans were of the “maybe see you there, around this time, at this place” variety. I cruised around on my bicycle all day. I’d ride it out to parties. Sometimes I had to walk it home. €5-10 at the Turkish market would afford me enough food to last at least a week. I cooked delicious dinners every night with all my fresh ingredients. I ate an astronomical amount of knusperflakes Ritter Sports and other chocolate delights.
I was in constant awe of Berlin’s unique array of mismatched architecture - historic, modern, and everything in between. The contrast between bright colors and overcast gray skies was candy to my retina. So much history had, and to be had. It was humbling. I felt closer to my Jewish roots. Being there made me realize how precious my life is, how rare I am, and how we’re all connected.
2007 was a hard year for me. Moving to Berlin was the key to making a change. I learned that when your surroundings are unfamiliar, you’re forced to be grounded. And I was a rock. I snapped out of my funk, and got into a groove.
My (still) boyfriend came to stay with me for the whole month of March. With him, I saw a whole other side of Berlin. I felt how different connecting with a city can be when you’re alone vs. with a partner in crime. Each have immeasurable value. I got the best of both worlds.
I was always “the young one” in my circle, so naturally my friends would tell me stories about their adventures from around the world. I was excited at the thought that someday I’d have my own to tell. Then all of a sudden, there I was - building MY OWN memories. My own adventures, which would become the legendary stories of my life.
Everyone I’d meet would say to me: “This is your home. This is where you’re meant to be.” And I never did feel like I belonged anywhere so much before. It was really hard when the time came to move back to New York. It took almost a year to readjust. Sometimes when I’m lying in bed at night, I close my eyes and I pretend I’m in my old bed in my Berlin apartment. I disorient myself and imagine how everything was situated. The church outside the window behind my head… closet with the secret chocolate stash by the door. I still go there in my mind to this day.
It was sad to depart, but the overall experience was so necessary for me to have gotten to where I am today. Certain connections formed in my brain that maybe wouldn’t have, had I not discovered this whole other part of myself.
I will always advise to everyone, especially young women, to throw yourselves out into the world. Write your own story. Choose your own adventure. Surround yourself with the unfamiliar. Not only will you discover new places, you’ll discover dimensions of YOURSELF you didn’t know existed. And you never know where they will lead.
I know someday I’ll end up back there, in some shape or form. Until then, here are a selection of some of my favourite pictures I took during this time. Til we meet again, Berlin. I’ll see you again someday.