I’m sleepless in Beirut.
My first real boyfriend was real because our relationship somehow slipped past my one-month threshold.
As with Hugg, The Pope was immediately tagged as “restricted”. His hair was rock n’ roll, his V-neck could have exposed a third nipple and his lips were so luscious that if you looked long enough, you could see the honey drip. The Pope was the embodiment of cool and everything that came with it i.e. obnoxiousness and arrogance.
I avoided him at first, but the more I observed him from afar, the more I realized that I had perhaps judged him a little too harshly. After all, he was new to Beirut and his air of superiority was more of a defense mechanism than a chronic disease. I decided to let down my guard and give the guy a chance.
He reminded me a little of myself actually. He was in unfamiliar territory trying to build a world for himself. It is not as easy task and I could sympathize with him on that level.
To my surprise, The Pope turned out to be friendly, interesting and loads of fun! He was what I had always hoped for from Beirut: an awakening.
I began to see the city and everything else from a different perspective. It was refreshing and inspiring; it gave me hope that I had it in me to paint over last year’s wallpaper, that I had it in me to trade in my glass menagerie for flower blossoms.
The city, I learned, was never meant to be static, it was never meant to stay as did your old room, delicately mummified and watched over by your mother, it was never meant to be a skin, pierced and tattooed, or a refrigerator door covered with post-its and magnets that never move. The city is a moving sand dune that brings along and leaves behind, a whale that swallows you and spews you out.
I wish I could see Beirut from up above, see the paths I’ve travelled, see the knots I’ve tied, see the tangles I have caused and those I have avoided. I wish I could see the paths I took during the day and during the night, the paths I walked and the paths I drove through. I wish I could see in red the paths that no longer slither, the buildings that no longer penetrate and the memories that no longer have a place to sigh. I wish I could see the paths of Botticelli, the paths of Hugg, the paths of The Pope and I, the paths of you and you and YOU. I wish I could see how close we got to one another. I wish I could map the ways we tease, the seductive steps we dance round one another and find those intersections where we felt alone together.
Imagine yourself moving through the city with a 15,000km string (about a year’s worth of coming and going). You start at point A and from there on wherever you move you would leave your string behind. In about a year’s time, you would have spun a web. Some lines would be thicker, some circles would be larger: a map of your year. This is web1: it has a mood, it has impressions, it has a story, it has lessons and it has addresses.
Now imagine that this is the web you had to forever follow. In reality, most of us do. Our routine is our web. Would you be able to evolve as much, learn as much, love as much, hurt as much as you did the first year you were spinning it?
By the third year, your throat would dry up, your fingers would wither, you eyes would glaze over, your nose would turn inwards and your tongue would shrivel.
Showing The Pope Beirut by day and Beirut by night and what lay beyond Beirut proper, helped me see that I had choice, that I didn’t have to live in web1, that I had it in me to have as many as I wanted and that I could see Beirut as a stack of webs. I could choose my Beirut.