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I’m sleepless in Beirut.

I had three days left to act. The following day, I messaged Lulu thanking him for having taken out some time to meet us for the interview. He replied telling me that the next time I’m in town, I should pass by his theatre. “It was a pleasure meeting you girls.”

That’s it? No, I wouldn’t have it. I really wanted to just call him and tell him what had happened the first night I laid eyes on him, and ask him whether he had felt something too. But he was 24 and I was 15, he wouldn’t take me seriously, and even if he did, what then?

Up to this day, I do not understand the intense need to let the other person know how you feel about them. If the feeling is mutual, wouldn’t you feel it too? If the magnetism is that strong, then you can tell one another everything by saying nothing. It is a signal that we can pick up, unless we have been irreversibly desensitized. The look that lingers, the knees that barely touch, the hand that doesn’t move away, the body that calls to you, the smell of death by lust curled up in the curve of the neck, the silences that sit on your laps like fat cats purring, the lips that need constant licking and biting – delicate vibrations that build up to a resonance that we can unwittingly shatter with a single word. I say, do not ask, but listen with every cell in your body. It is a soft, sensual hum that cannot be missed.

But time was sand diminishing, so I asked him instead. I asked him whether he had recognized me from that night, and whether he too had felt the hum of intrigue pass between us. I swallowed my pride, and sent it.

My gulp got stuck in my throat, my heart played to psychedelic trance, my sweaty palms were skis. Minutes felt like days.

Beep beep, beep beep.

“Of course I recognized you. The air of intrigue was mutual. Call you after my rehearsal.”

The rush of adrenaline was so strong that I had to go use the bathroom.

He called me after a couple of hours asking me where I was. I was at the mall with my sister. He was there in 10min.

We sat down for a cup of coffee. The first thing I told him was that the interview was bullshit and that I was sorry for having concocted such a lie. He revealed that he had felt something fishy…

He had to go meet up with a friend, so we decided to meet up the following day, to spend more time together.

I was over every celestial object you could name and when I got home, the grin on my face brought forth a lot of questions from my mother. I told her.

And she forbade me to go see him. “He’s too old for you, you never know, he could slip something into your drink and then God knows what will happen! You know these actor types, they use all kinds of substances. Why are you putting yourself at risk?”

I tried to explain, but she wouldn’t have any of it.

The next day I spent my entire morning and afternoon sitting next to the window and looking out unto the street. I felt too heavy to do anything. It was raining outside, everything was wet and gray and I related, on a very deep, level with the clouds that had fallen from the sky in shatters of dirty muddy puddles. Stepped on and stepped in.

My mother approached me, “You meet him in a public place and don’t go anywhere private, you understand? You watch your drink and give me his name and phone number. Keep your phone where you can hear it and don’t let me wonder why you’re not picking up.”

Conditions? Fuck conditions, they were damn reasonable and it was then, at 15 that I learnt that my mother was human and that she too had a past beyond the day I was born.

I called up Lulu, and we were to meet at midday at the town square’s gellateria. Speaking of ice…

The following day was as sunny as sunny could get, but the temperature had dropped to -17 overnight and yesterday’s rain had turned into snow which the wind was now brushing against the cobbled stones in brief wisps.

I remember every single detail of that day. He walked in wearing a heavy black coat. He ordered vanilla ice-cream with cherry syrup. He let me taste it. He helped me put on my tan brown coat. We walked along the busy pedestrian street lined with stalls selling souvenirs. My hands were freezing. He bought me gloves. I wanted knitted wool, he wanted leather. We spoke about theatre and the middle east, his old brick and medicinal bottle collection, about love and how I reminded him of his ex, both in form and in thought. We walked past churches, up the stairs, into an art gallery, into a book shop, only to end up in a tea house just across from the gellateria. We sat next to each other, his knee against mine, his elbow against my arm, as we looked through the photos I had taken that day.

It was 16h, and he had a rehearsal to go to. Having nothing else to offer, I gave him a black rubber bracelet I was wearing, and he ran to his car to fetch his backpack. He pulled out a bead bracelet he had bought on his trip to Turkey.

We said goodbye, and walked in the opposite directions. The sun was setting now and the white walls and columns of the cathedral were painted an orangey yellow and I didn’t dare look back. The sky and the city looked like I felt and I just kept on walking deeper into the dream, etching the memory of that day into the path I walked.

The next day, when the plane was flying over the city, my tears were hot with grief and loss, and I collected them on my lower lip, so as not to lose any more.




I’m sleepless in Beirut.

The more I write, the more I remember. As soon as I formulate a memory into words, another one resurfaces. It’s as though they are stored in stacks, one underneath the other. Yet there is one memory which has a shrine of its own and that is the story of the very beginning, a story that predates Beirut.

I knew it was him, because my body started shivering; I couldn’t hold my cup, my feet were involuntarily tapping to silence and my lips were quivering so much, that I had to resort to writing to explain to my friend what was happening.

We were sitting in a theatre café, observing from beyond the immediate circle, a discussion amongst the cast and students of theatre production. He sat outside the circle too, though his head was turned towards them. He was two tables across from me. I would have probably shivered myself into a prune had he sat a little closer.

I recognized him as one of the actors that we had just seen perform on stage. Bizarrely, I hadn’t noticed anything special about him during the performance.

Our eyes locked thrice during the entire evening. They locked. It was the first time I didn’t shy away and I looked back with intensity so intimidating, that I myself was taken aback by my audacity. At that moment, I remember thinking to myself, “This is something beyond everything. This is something.”

Even now I wonder what it was exactly that I had felt. It wasn’t as simple as lust or infatuation because they are so primal in their definition that I would have recognized them immediately. The emotion was so strong that I was transfixed, so taken by it that I could feel it concentrate in my bones. I could feel my bones. It didn’t hurt, it didn’t feel good, my skeleton was just there like a thought. And with its presence, there came the knowledge that this man was very important to me. It was a fact. It was so clear and so true that I never questioned it, not for one second.

And I still know it now, even though I have let go of the pursuit of trying to make him see it and understand it. Even if he did, what could he do with me? What was he supposed to do with a 15-year-old girl whose eyes looked at him with a sense of direction for his life? How was he to place me in his world?

Why was he important to me? What was it about him that made my whole body and soul resonate? I tossed about the possibility of love in my hands and it didn’t feel heavy enough, it didn’t feel right enough. Love is not a truth, it is a choice, and I didn’t choose him.

Was I a victim of a panic attack and he the victim of my unoriginal explanation? Were we somehow connected in our previous lives, if such a thing exists? Will we be connected in an afterlife, if such a possibility exists? Will we cross paths again in this life? I didn’t know what to think, none of these explanations stood high enough to peer over the wall that kept me from understanding this state of being. All I knew is that I was his. If anyone owns me on this Earth, it is Lulu. I could feel my pride and ego gnaw at my bones as I surrendered to his spell.

It was getting late, the streets would start freezing over soon and getting home would become increasingly risky. I dragged my friend into the ladies’ room to discuss a possible course of action. I had to speak to him, I had to do something.

On our way out, we noticed that he wasn’t there anymore. I was beyond disappointed, on the verge of devastation really.

He was talking on his cell phone in the dark of the foyer. All I could think of was,


“See you”, he said.

When you’re young and naïve and quivering, that is sufficient to make you go mad with hope.

As we stepped outside into the snow, I was already imagining a happy ever after.

That night, I couldn’t sleep. My head kept on playing and rewinding the episode at the theatre. He had worn a Prussian blue sweater, which intensified the blue of his eyes. His hair was black, a tad disheveled and the lower half of his face was dotted with speckles of a beard-to-come.

I decided to write him a short letter which I left with the doorman of the theatre the next morning. I didn’t even know if I had gotten his name correct; the poster of the play was my only source and there were three males in the cast…it was a game of darts in the dark.

I was travelling in a week, and the doorman had told me that he was originally with another theatre, which was on the other side of town, so the chances of him receiving it in time to reply were slim. My hopes were fat. My next step had to be overweight.

With my fingers crossed, I flipped through the obese phone book and found his name, but it wasn’t his entirely, it was a lady’s. I called anyway.


“Hello, is this Lulu’s number?”

“I’m his mother. May I know who’s speaking?”

Never before have my neurons fired back a lie this fast.

“I’m a student writing an article for our school about young and upcoming actors, and I was wondering whether I could get Lulu for an interview.”

“Well, he’s not here right now, but if you want I could give you his cell phone number.”

“That would be perfect.”


“Thank you very much! Have a good evening.”

Was I fast enough to shut the phone before I screamed victory into the alleyway? I guess not.

I waited until I calmed down, and called the number.

“Hello, Mr.Lulu?”


I told the same lie once more, and it was bought without any struggle. We had a date the next afternoon at another theatre.

That evening, my friends and I sat down in a café to come up with a decent list of questions. We tried to be original, but because we were only fifteen years old, “Briefs or boxers?” seemed to be original enough for us. Of course, we had more serious questions to compensate for our childishness.

The three of us arrived in advance so as to appear professional. We eagerly watched out the window. He drove up in a little black Golf, covered in multi-coloured stickers. I couldn’t imagine anything cooler.

He was cute and funny and modest and we took pictures with him. During the entire time, I watched him closely to see whether or not he had recognized me from the other night. I was so nervous, anxious that he was in on the whole thing.

In a couple of hours, the three of us sat down to watch him in Chekov’s “Cherry Orchard” and I discretely filmed snippets of him playing the idiot. I still have those clips.

Once the day was over, I was still feeling empty. I needed something more. Answers and videos weren’t enough. I had to put on my fat-suit again, and I had to get better results. I had to play it shameless.

But what do you do when you stare the only purpose, you’ve ever recognized, straight into the eye?

How do you put it forth into the world? How do you make it alive?

How the fuck do you deal with simultaneous realities that exist in parallel? How do you reconcile a reality, that allows for petty details - of blue eyes, Golf cars and questions about underwear - to spin a web that becomes our idea of the world, with a reality that assigns ideas [of purpose, connection and truth] to particular details and particular people who, in the worldly sense, are petty?

Or simply put, how do you deal with worrying about unmanicured nails and the search of meaning and purpose and value all at the same time?

the in between - one

The moment, frozen in pixels




I’m sleepless in Beirut.

I was travelling in a couple of days to join my family for Christmas vacation, so the plan for that Saturday night was to have lots and lots of memorable fun.

I picked up The Pope, and we headed straight to the Mashrou3a Leila concert.

We arrived late of course; punctuality is not my forte. The place was packed, the energy was unbelievable; you could almost touch it.

Since The Pope and I were still at the very beginning of our “being together in public”, I let him have his space, while I danced and mingled, my feet on fire. Frankly, I never enjoyed dancing with him; we could never seem to find the right rhythm or the right fit, except for that one occasion at Acid…

In an hour or so, Mr. Nawfal started directing us towards the exit. The party was to go on. I was still bobbing my head to the beats as we drove to Gemmayzeh.

BTGD was packed with the same faces that we saw at the concert and that we usually see anyway. The Pope’s friends were there, people I didn’t yet know, and I unwilling to make conversation over loud music, remained with my group of friends.

As the night went on, The Pope was still not by my side. I scanned the room to see where he had disappeared to. He wasn’t far ahead, making casual conversation with some girl. I was always amazed by his ability to make friends wherever he would go. He was magnetic.

A friend of mine noticed the two of them and commented on the girl in red: she’s so sexy, isn’t she? I always see her talking to a different guy each night. She’s on such an ego trip. She tried to flirt with me, but I didn’t give her any face. I don’t like girls like that.

Well, neither did I.

What were my options? Walk over and break up their conversation and appear like the jealous girlfriend? Or, leave them to it and hope that not all women are Eve and evil?

I chose the latter. I was always convinced that if you start acting paranoid and possessive, it will work against you.

So I preoccupied myself with watching my drunken friends’ antics and checking up on the two of them every now and then.

Beyonce was crazy in love by now, and from where I was looking, they were standing closer. The Pope looked at me, I smiled and thought that I had taken care of it. I had let him know that I was thinking about him.

A couple of moments later, they had disappeared from my view. Alert.

They were not outside. They were not anywhere near the bathroom, nor in the women’s cubicle, nor in the men’s. After having taken several lessons in the history of The Pope, I knew that nothing was off limits for this sex god. As a matter of fact, he could start a blog of his own and place his bets on an early retirement. Too many stories.

They were at the bar.

The Pope’s back was towards me, so I gave him a playful tickle. Patient: unresponsive.

I was leaning forward to put my chin on his shoulder when I witnessed the unthinkable act: The Pope and La Connasse commiting lingular blasphemy.


I marched straight out the door, sat down on the steps, got straight back up, went right back in, walked straight to The Pope, in front of La Connasse, kissed him oh so sweetly and debouched back into the street.

My friend saw the state I was in, so he dove after me. We walked to my car, while he preached great truths about how The Pope wasn’t man enough, wasn’t mature enough and wasn’t worth the half of me.

“Let us see how he manages without me now. His stuff is in my car, his stuff is in my house, let us see how he’ll manage now. Yalla, let us see.”

As we were getting into the car, from the corner of my eye I saw Judas running down the street towards us.

I hurried my friend to get in as fast as he could. We shut the doors. I locked them. I turned the ignition key, put my gear in reverse, pressed hard on the pedal, changed gears again and turned from the parking space. The Pope had caught up, he was now banging on the passenger window, shouting my name as I started driving forward. The Pope then grabbed unto the roof bars, jumped unto the little step that sticks from beneath the car door and we were one, in perfect kinetic harmony, roaring down the street.

Naturally, I wanted to keep on driving, but fortunately, my friend, made it very clear to me that I would have the boy killed. So I stopped the car, The Pope clambered off and I rolled down my window.


“J-j-j-j-j-j-je p-p-p-p-p-peux te parler?”, he said panting.

After a moment’s consideration, I couldn’t find it in me to just leave him like that. He looked like an illustration of “pitiable”.

I thanked my friend for coming along, we hugged and I got back into the car. I started driving.

“J-j-j-je suis desole”

He looked a right mess, and for a moment there, I believed him. Well, I did believe him; there was much to be sorry about.

He made me stop the car so we could talk. I thought there was nothing to talk about. What was done was done. It was irreversible.

“Je suis desole. Je sais pas.”

The funny part was that in less than half an hour I was smiling. It was just the right amount of comical for my sense of humour and I had to indulge. I saw the situation for what it was and I understood it.

He thought I didn’t care enough to break up their conversation.

I thought he was just making friends.

He thought that was stupid because I knew how much attention he attracts.

I thought that was normal for his age and since we hadn’t really laid down any grounds for our relationship (“do whatever you want, as long as I don’t find out” – you can quote me on this jewel of a line, please), it didn’t come as such a big shock. The saddest part of all was that were I in his place, I would have done the same. As long as there is no love, we owe nothing to the other person, except respect. And it was in that precise department, that he was up to his ears in debt.

Of course, what followed next was a speech about how deeply he was sorry, that he would understand if I never wanted to see him again, that he was sorry he disrespected me, that in fact he respected me very much, more than himself actually and that he really enjoyed my company.

“Je suis bien avec toi”

Well, that was a first. He had never said anything of the sort before. It was a much appreciated upgrade from “je ne suis pas ici pour faire des relations”.

We arrived home.

“Good luck”, I said as he walked in after me.

I went to brush my teeth. He sat on the bed, not knowing what to make of it.

That night we had our first sincere conversation about how we felt for one another, and in a way that made up for the whole thing. Here was a guy I got along with really well, who inspired me to be the best I could be, who was great company, who was going to leave in a couple of months, so I pondered: what did I have to lose?

I saw it as an opportunity to learn something about myself by being in a relationship with a set expiry date. It would be another one of my social experiments.

“Un regard doux sur les barbares”, wrote Gymnase. And now I could see why.

Mais un regard vicieux pour La Connasse!

I knew she wasn’t to blame, I knew it was The Pope who had to say “No” (“I told her – twice – that my girlfriend was in the room. She kissed me!” He was good with numbers like that, Einstein.), but I had forgiven him, and I had to release the anger somehow. So the next time I was on a girls’ night out in BTGD, I was 31 going on 13, pointing her way and turning my friends’ ears red with female solidarity. Anger is a force that blinds and my creative tactics didn’t go beyond high-school shoves and squinty stares.

So I’m officially letting go. Pope: Amen. La Connasse: God blitz. May peace reign behind the green door.




I’m sleepless in Beirut.

“Do you think you wasted your time with me?”, he asked.

Botticelli, fierce with nonchalance, but always ready for some reassurance. How lovely a marriage!

“Of course not, you were the beginning of everything.”

He was. I vividly remember the morning after we first made love.

I looked a little distraught, so he held me by the waist and asked what was wrong.

I don’t remember what I said, but that is of no importance.

Just a moment before, I had gone to the kitchen on the pretext of getting some coffee.

What I in fact was doing was trying to stop myself from bursting into tears. I wasn’t sad, no. It was more of an affirmation. I was showing myself that I had been wrong to think that I had become numb, that I was still capable of feeling. Up until I had met Botticelli, I had been wandering along a street of peep show joints. I was a Peeping Tom.

Before turning into that street, I had been deeply in love. I had fallen head over heels and overhead again for Lulu, a man I had known for but a day, literally. As legends go, it was a love at first sight kind of love. Legendary!

It was an obsession I had allowed to fester for three years. Three years! For three years I was walking down a street of perfect proportions, so perfect that it wasn’t a place fit for human presence.

So imagine my relief, when I finally turned a corner, straight into the universe of the organic and the frivolous! The street was crowded and noisy and lined with numerous opportunities. Each time I would open a door, the foyer would take my breath away and I would venture in deeper, hoping for another perfect room. It was then that I discovered my short attention span for imperfections. So I drifted along, setting up camp here and there, always hopeful and always thinking, “Here, this is the one.”

The circus vanished with the masterful flick of a wand. Botticelli was in the house.

My tears were round and hot, and I even indulged in a couple of quiet sobs. I wiped them away, washed my face with some cool water and went back in to where he was sitting behind his desk.

How could I answer him? Could I tell him that he was the martyr who had slain Lulu? Could I tell him that he had erased my doubts of never feeling again? Could I tell him that I was afraid of actually feeling? Why weigh down tears that are already falling?

I said nothing.




I’m sleepy in Beirut.

Hugg left a couple of hours ago. We finally made peace. Regardless, I feel like the relationship is changing course, and perhaps, not for the better. It’s too fresh in my mind to be put into words. The thesis statement is still baking in the oven.

Socrates messaged me earlier on today, inviting me to join him and a friend on an outing to the mountains. I called him a little later to see how it was going. He was already back home.

I met Socrates a few days ago at an exhibition. He has a husky voice, and I like that. It makes me think of all the years he had spent trying to say something to the world. I soon found out that he was not afraid to feel strongly about issues and it is a characteristic that I admire.

Fearlessness. If only the wizard would grant me a brave heart!

Perhaps that is a little unfair a self-criticism, because people have called me courageous before. Yet, I think of those moments as me having been a little more thoughtless, and little bit more careless. But sometimes being stupid translates into trying.

When I first walked in, Socrates looked my way. I walked straight over to him, introduced myself and noticed that he was a little destabilized for that split second. We had spoken before, via the Internet. We shared a fascination with the world. It was nice to finally find someone who I could discuss with. I love the person he brought out in me. It’s the one who suddenly remembers her outside-of-common-conversation vocabulary, who uses language as she would use play dough, to remodel, to recreate, to entertain and who wishes to express because the person listening has the capacity to understand. I openly confessed that I enjoyed our conversations and that I hoped this would carry through into the real world.

It did. I felt at ease.

At first, he was still trying to evaluate the situation. I could see he was a little nervous, but he masked it well. I noticed that I was a little overdressed for the occasion. It didn’t matter though for I was radiating that peculiar kind of light that comes once every now and then, that brilliant burst of confidence which makes me feel like I could do anything. He felt it, and the half bottle of red wine in his blood stream made it all the warmer and all the more acute.

The conversation flowed, the exhibition was closing, the night was still young, so we carried the torch to Demo. His foreign friend came along; no first meeting should risk being over accessorized with awkwardness!

The evening was so lovely that I failed to give La Connasse sitting across from us the evil eye.

La Connasse will be revealed to you in all her glory very very soon, so relax your fists for now.

I excused myself roundmidnight; I had a ball to go to (the very same ball where a year ago I met the "charming" Clooney Fartface). Of course, as the Cinderella custom goes, I left him something to hold on to: a handshake for the foreigner and the more intimate, more culturally fitting three kisses on the cheek, the lip to cheek kind and a reminder to take me out for dinner.

Our conversation over the phone was long; we had a lot of things we wanted to talk about. The only people I can talk with for this long are with my closest friends, like Belle and Flutterby and other girlfriends who live far away, and of course, Botticelli.

We could have talked for longer, but I really wanted to keep the heated discussions for later, for street side cafes or for walks along winding streets. I promised to set a date as soon as I was free.

Giving the warm feeling the conversation solicited, I called Botticelli.


That meant he wasn’t busy and he was happy to hear from me. I was very happy too.

We spoke for a while, and it was mostly me updating him with my latest drama. I didn’t want it to be that way, I would have much rather preferred to be sitting right across from him, but those delights need certain circumstances. One being the mutual agreement to see one another.

I stress this not to make him look savage, but to emphasize to what extent I am sensitive to rejection, and especially his. If I were to arrive unannounced and he were immersed in his work, there might not be enough correlation for an impromptu sitting down. To top it all, I still wasn’t sure how he felt since our last conversation, the one where he called me selfish and left me feeling underappreciated and misunderstood.

Botticelli’s concerned tone made me feel better. I felt sheltered. His sincerity always manages to disperse the clouds of doubt that come over me. That is what men are supposed to do for emotional creatures like us; they have it in them to fight away those demonic illusions we sometimes create for the sake of witnessing chivalry. Call this baggage, call this social pressure on the male, but for me a man is somebody who I can look at and forget the meaning of doubt. He is logic, he is strength and he is clarity.

To all the extremist feminists out there, you should know better than to attack me for saying this. I know that women can be strong and logical and everything that a man can be. But I am not talking about women. I don’t know women.

My definition of a man is far from complete, but I do know this: to be a man is to recognize a lady and to treat her well and to never ever make her doubt him.