I’m sleepless on flight 419, overlooking pitch black Iraq from Saudi air space.
I hate that I have to clench my jaw and look up into the white light in order to stop the tears from rolling into my mouth and causing salt burn. The food is tasteless, but luckily I’ve just been handed my glass of wine. I badly want to exhale a destructive cloud of gray. It’s alright – Beirut is near.
The last time I remember being this sad was when I got on my first ever flight – I was nine years old and moving to an alien country I knew peanuts about. All I could think of was, “I don’t want to leave! I don’t! The first chance I get – I am coming back!” But that never happened. I lived in the UAE for over a decade. And now I was devastated to leave it for my adopted home.
Writing the above comforts me. Maybe the sadness I feel now is the inevitable closing of another chapter in my life. Besides feeling sad about leaving behind friends that remember my teenage awkwardness, or my family that I never give enough back to, or my high school sweetheart, I am probably most anxious about leaving this comfort zone, which I so easily dismissed as a punishment, a prison throughout all these years, for an uncertain future. It seems to me that a week spent in 40 degree centigrade captivity, awakened a sort of longing for sand storms, moral handcuffs and shopping malls. I reluctantly packed my suitcase; my only retaliation was my signature tardiness. I made it just in time for the check-in.
I am pitching myself the idea that the best is yet to come, that everything will fall into place, that I will take the right steps forward and the right steps backward and that I will end up in a place where I am meant to be – or a place that caters to my inner peace and my hungry spirit.
I am pitching myself the idea that this sadness stems from the fact that I was tempted to choose the easier option, the more conspicuous, more immediately bountiful offer. If I were to move back, I would have my old friends within hand reach, I would feel like an old-timer, I would receive heavier paychecks, and most importantly, I would have somebody by my side.
I didn’t expect to react the way I did to meeting Red again. I knew we would get along, I knew we would have a lot to say to one another, but I didn’t think for one second that he would spin my head into a dizzy panorama of nostalgia, lust and daydreams. The intensity of the emotions caught me off guard: he was cuter, hotter and more comfortable than ever.
I am pitching myself the idea that it was not our decade-old sparks and chemistry that wreaked havoc in our pituitary glands, but, instead a year-old dry spell.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” he asked early into the evening.
“It’s been too long. Over a year now, but even that was just a two-week fling,” I replied.
“Same here. It’s so hard…” he explained.
“…to meet girls. Yeah. I totally understand. Personally, I just don’t want to waste time or energy on dead-end relationships.”
“Say that I meet someone in Dubai, I would have to go there every weekend to see her. It’s fucked up.”
“Yeah, long-distance is not for me. How could it possibly work? Unless there are years of history and the move is temporary…”
On the screen opposite our table, the qualifying game was on. Chelsea vs. Juventus. Our friends kept on walking in from the club to ask Red about the score, who had scored the goal, who was fouled. I was touched he was slow to answer.
The entire evening felt like the gradual sinking into a beanbag. It was increasingly warmer, cozier and more intimate. My body spoke for me, I read the attraction in my gestures: touching his knee, tousling his unrelenting hair, colliding elbows.
We called it an early night, he had work the following morning and I needed to talk to someone about what had just happened.
“The funny things is,” I was telling Flutterby “seeing him hadn’t crossed my mind until I got here. And now, all I can think of is how attracted I am to him. And I now he feels the same, poker face or not, I know this guy. I can read him.”
While I dug into the wedding-white coconut cake her mom had made, she was coming up with a plan of how I could release all this tension.
But all I wanted was to feel his bulging arms and manly chest surround me, nestle my nose in his neck and breathe him in till my lungs were filled to last.