The city of a monumentally pierced skyline has taken me beneath its broken zinc membrane. Every morning, I wake up as though on a little boat floating on a sea of slopes and bobbing chimneys. Going down unto the street feels very much like a descent into depths, into an other world. These two worlds lie close to one another, like oil over water. The static and silent Paris of roofs and the vibrant and at times aggressive Paris of the streets.
It does not take much to fall in love. In the popular sense, lovers come here to celebrate their love, but I don’t think Paris is the ideal backdrop. I think Paris is the place to discover love.
Love is a word I hate to use. It’s too ambiguous and too liable to personal interpretation. But I think Paris and Love are both supplementary and complimentary to one another, almost interchangeable. They can mean and bring so many different things. Practically indefinable.
Here, I breathe freedom; personal, inner freedom. In spite of having been here many times before, I am free of the previous. It feels a little like the fantasy of being reborn into the world, free of the patterns of the life you lived, but with the memory and awareness that can only be acquired over time. Clean of the nuisances of people, it is a time for me to be alone and to learn why I once was my best friend. That close relationship I had harvested between me, myself and I as a single child has been lost in the multitudes of largely useless social transactions. I say transactions because according to personal observations, the majority of people are ready to settle for less, a residual conversation, a half-conscious thrashing in bed, in order to avoid an awkward silence, a sit-in with no one but themselves. Somehow, we fail to see that this particular silence is rich. It is easy to think that every moment of nothing should be spent fiddling with your Blackberry, your iPad, your mp3 player. We have forgotten that our ancestors used to go to great lengths, climb great mountains, build sacred spaces, to embrace introspection.
Here, I can roam alone without feeling conspicuous, sit in a café and watch people, or write, or read, without feeling like I’m something special – in Beirut, I’ve almost always caught myself with a perverse vanity on my shoulder.
I can explore me. The streets guide me, and all I have to do is walk.
I love, the anonymity. I love, the play of un/familiarity. I love, the technicality of not being a tourist.
We woke up to the sound of twittering birds and the hammering of something to be renovated. The sky was finally back in the court of the Ministry of Tourism, but the air still fresh and loyal to the chilly season.
We stayed in bed for a long stretch. My head was still bobbing in a sea of amaretto sours; getting up and starting the day felt like a mission fit for Columbus. I wanted to stagnate, sink into the creases of ruffled bedsheets, unmove forever. That is the nature of mornings - like the discomfort of holding your pee, but opposite, unhysterical, not urgent, but potent and wanting. A case of pillow for a toilet bowl.
Later, finally out of bed and dressed in double layers, first mine that his, I looked out the window and realised that leaving Beirut will not be so easy.
"Never buy a one-way ticket - it's bad luck.", I was once advised.
I'm not susceptible to superstitions, but I do know that life has a funny way of shifting our petty plans for the benefit of a greater scheme, so whether I have a one-way or two-way, is not going to matter.
Looking out unto the building across, sunlight the perfect hue, I ran the scenario of NO-RETURN and caught it just before I could toss it into the nonsense bin. It played to a dramatic soundtrack, percussion exaggerated, mood intense.
"What if?", I had to ask.
Suddenly, Paris became the newborn baby that took mommy away. It shrieked in foreign, face wrinkled like a crumpled tissue, its folds, milky, sticky, sex-shop-signboard red faced, rejecting mother's nipple, crying cold cold rain, diapers stuffed with metro soot.
I had to ask because ever until this moment I was too busy thinking about going, but never about leaving. Never about leaving because I...
I don't reconsider things I'm sure of. Paris was it. Paris isit. It's what I've always wanted. But always is not a word fir for our lifetime and always is somewhere after the end of change and change is the only thing I ever really needed, thus Paris is not it. Nothing will ever be it. Everything lies in transition. The moment when you were half stuck between your mother's legs, somewhere between conception and birth. That is what I'm after: the in-betweens.
But in spite of its static geodisposition, Beirut somehow succeeded in being a time frame rather than a destination. In part because I always felt I'd leave, eventually, or it would collapse under me, or I'd fall in love and replace it. Yet also because the air here is heavy with imminence. We know not when, but we know it could be, might be, should be, anytime, whenever, somehow, sometimes, soon. Beirut never sleeps. She never stops to think and in that lies both her beauty and her own destruction.
Careless scarred stripped wild child running into walls Crumbling. Crackling wires on her head, sparks and power cuts for bows, ties, Ribbons of urine trickle in her bed, no river could wash away Stains. Bullet holes. P.As of love, telephone numbers off bathroom walls. Misunderstood misguided mad wild thing stumbling through the door Intoxicated. Tight in stockings and market things, sharing her one thing in exchange for Shimmers and glitters and sky high stilettos. And uh-ohs Resound in the backs of her minds. And oh-nos escape the nostalgic mouths. Yes, uh-ohs and oh-ohs as she's fucked day and night. Loud sweaty smiling wild kinky puss, looking to the ceiling laying on the floor Lifeless.