I’m sleepless in Beirut.
If we were to meet on a street corner, that would be the beginning of you and I. That moment would be the first line of our epitaph: the date, the time, the location, the weather, and the places we were heading to.
But what would be the last line of the inscription? Here, it might be a little more complicated. The death of an idea, an emotion or a relationship is never final. The memory is lasting, and not all residues can be swept underneath a rug. Or maybe there is no such thing as an end at all…
What keeps me awake on a night and many nights like this are those memories and those souvenirs that burn either bright or dim. No man is poor if he has something to look back on, but poor is a man if he has nothing to look forward to.
In that sense, I consider myself quite lucky. Perhaps my everyday life is not worth a reality TV crew, but there are certain moments and stories that are worth making a movie out of. Most of us do. For me, they are the highlights of my story; they are the periodical catapults that jerk my existence into life.
Imagine yourself driving up to the mountains at night. It’s a new moon and the road is unlit. Your headlights reach into the darkness, and you see just far enough ahead of you not to veer into the valley. Then suddenly, as you round the corner, you see a stretch of a road that is lined with streetlights, and they’re switched on. Your eyes relax and you ease into your seat, everything is now clear and vivid and you are finally aware of where you are. The warm glow of the tungsten bulbs fills you with a sense of calm and knowing. The road is long and the night is young and you hope someone out there has his or her light switched on for you.
These are my souvenirs. I’m a scavenger of momentary trinkets moving forward in time, scouring every hour, turning over every minute left unlived. I’m a collector of moments and memories and I wear them on a string of thought.
But time doesn’t stop moving and I am not getting any younger, my strings are starting to wear out underneath the weight of my collected memorials. It is time to put them down into words, to unburden my mind and to make way for something fresh and invigorating. The best is yet to come.
But where do I begin my story? Should I start at the beginning, or walk backwards, or just wander along the streets of Beirut, sniffing the air for leftover traces?