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.