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I'm sleepless in Beirut.

"Je crois qu'elle me plait..."

The Nth time I hear him pledge his love to a girl he has just shared the air in the room with.

I met Dot via a dot.com. We chatted briefly, he seemed like a genuinely nice guy and we agreed to meet the following day in front of a bar in the street where I used to live.

I got off the 21st, reliving the sweet taste of an old familiar routine, waited for the light to turn red, crossed the street before the crowd of tourists switched into gear, crossed the second light, but instead of going straight through the huge arcade, I walked around to gather some courage, to calm myself down and to freeze the feeling of nausea that never fails to show up in my stomach whenever I am meeting someone strange.

I saw him leaning against a street pole, casually looking into his phone and observing the surroundings through the blurry mist that lay outside his focal point.

He looked decent, but not as masculine as his photos promised, more retired ballerina than bull-fighter. And he was not the height he claimed to be. As I approached him with my calculative gaze I missed the equations he used to go up all the way to 1.75m. Soooo not his height.

We walked down the winding street, stretched by the setting sun rays and the languid shadows of people strolling, successfully making conversation, that felt genuine yet, still, slightly constructed. At Odeon, every cafe and bar within our view seemed either too full or too touristic or or or...so we settled for something neither of us knew, liked or disliked. A perfect neutral ground for social experimentation.

Dot was interesting. Interesting in the sense that his curiosity was still alive and a-poking. His manner was powder-room soft, his sentences well articulated, perhaps too much, rehearsed...? His best quality to surface within half an hour was his honesty.

"Je suis marié."

"Comment? Où est ta bague?!"

"Marié mais en train de me divorcer."

It's a funny feeling. So he was someone with whom some girl fell in love with and thought they could have a life together. Wow. But also, he was someone with whom the dream didn't take flight. Daaaang.

But I wasn't looking for a flight. I had two months left in Paris and all I wanted was a sweet ride to take for a spin.

I began feeling increasingly nervous, but I didn't immediately feel the anxiety, instead, I read it in my hands. My fingers were playing with my hairband, contorting it into spectacular shapes. This meant only one thing - I was losing control of the situation and I tried to restore some power to myself by moulding an elastic band. I had to get out of here.

"Je ne me sens pas bien."

"Qu'est ce que t'as."

"Je suis nerveuse..."

"A cause de moi?"

"Je ne sais pas, mais en tout cas, je le sens. Je ne sais pas quoi faire avec mes mains."

"Tu veux qu'on bouge d'ici? On peut aller chez moi, j'ai du fromage, des tomates, de pancetta..."

"Chez toi? Hmmm, je ne sais pas si..."

"Non, non, rien ne va se passer. Je te promet."

And that is how control was back in my deck of cards. I learned that in anxiety-ridden situations the best way to go is to address the anxiety. Most of the time, people are surprised by the claim. 

"You? Nervous?!"

Few people have the X-ray vision that your paranoia invents.

So over to his house we went. As with most Parisian apartments I had lived in or visited, it was on the last floor. He opened up the rooftop window, we climbed out, laid out the plates, cutlery, nibbles and a large globe of light, and suddenly the scene turned all gooey and movie-like. Minus the romance.

The romance was waiting for us lower below, contained by the warmly lit walls. As I sat on the sofa, he inconspicuously moved over to the piano and began playing one of my all-time favourite piano pieces. Smooth criminal.

After a couple of beautifully played pieces, he sat down next to me and it felt like the famous Hamlet quote, but in a naughty context.

It was awkward, I threw my cardigan over my head, in what I will forever remember as the unsmoothest randomest move I ever pulled out of my sleeve, and said that I had to go.

In the corridor, he said, "Embrasses-moi".

He was shorter than me, I knew it wouldn't work, but I leaned forward anyway.

And suddenly life was complicated by a simple desire to make that stupid cliche moment linger, a desire to avoid the greasy metro poles, to forget that I had work tomorrow, to forget that the timing of things mattered.

Finally, I pulled away and out the door.

But the next day, I was back, with my suitcase and all. That is how I moved from dot.com to Dot's in 36hours.




I'm sleepless in Beirut.

I succumb to the miss. I succumb to the wait. I succumb to the weight of his absence, a strange fruit to replace a lightness so feather-light it was barely there.

I thought attachment needed a leash, dependence needed a habit, sequence needed a prerequisite.

But he just had to disappear for the magic to happen.

So here I am sitting like a white innocent rabbit in a top hat, waiting for the world to pause, for his sign, a wink, whatever, waiting for his hand to reach for me, waiting to be part of the show.

But the perspective of the white rabbit looking upwards is narrowly defined by the circular lining, his claustrophobia carefully contained in a cylinder and his anticipation loudly churning his insides to quivering bits.

The audience is at his whim, not mine, and the best I can do in this act is be as discrete in my waiting as possible, as quiet in my want, as shallow in my desire, my ears tucked in as hard as he is far away from me.

All this, and the curtains have yet to be parted.

Dear Departed, come back.




I'm sleepless in Beirut.

Red velvet and I want you to know that you'll always get your way...and I shiver.

Did I know that I'd always be waiting for you?

No. But I traded it all for you the moment I let you wrap your arms around me.

I hugged Botticelli and started crying like a baby for all the times I had been strong against my nature. My nature kicks slippers off my feet, my nature blows hair unto my face, my nature oils me up and sends me running through tight doorways.


It's easy being back. It's easy to fall in love again. It's easy to forget what I had packed for my departure. Hopes? Dreams? They are all still here.

The few people that matter remain. The rest are rotting where they belong. I could smell them before today's big rain.

Why are we okay with ta2 7anak? All these traffic jams to get to someone who's less captivating than our BlackBerries. Our eyes are glazing over, I look around and I see that we are living life through screens and buttons. Been having lots of headaches? Watch out for that antennae sprouting.

As long as I can feel life tremble beneath my finger tips, I can deal with that. I say it's not my disease. I say I've been abroad and have returned with a new pair of oculars. I say I'll make it better. If not for all of you, for the people that chose to remain, or no, who found remaining effortless.

Why are we okay with ta2 7anak? All these drinks is on me and the party's for free for what? And you say you don't like to give money to the poor. Those people are of no value to you either. Ta2 7anak.

If I learned anything in Paris it is that there are too many tourists in this life to give directions to. If I walk fast it is because I have enough to keep me going. I'll slow down when I'm hungry.

Seriously, drop those sand bags. Or pierce them to see if there is anything worth sifting.