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I’m sleepless in Beirut.

There must be a name for it, teetering on a thin line between adaptability and self-deceit. I’d like to think that I’m keeping my balance, but in the back of my mind I know that balance is a religion of minute proportions. At any moment, if I’m caught off guard, I could slip.

I feel like I shouldn’t put it into words, I feel like what we have is sacred and only ours, but I never, never ever, want to forget that day.

It all happened rather suddenly. I had e-mailed him after spending a few late night hours going through old photos.

“I want this end to end.”

Little by little, over the course of a few days, I grew more adamant. I was anxious and scared, but I wanted to see him, I had missed him. Yet the old paranoia of being too unabashed, borderline invasive, kept me from taking drastic measures. I messaged him once more, I called him, but there was no clear sign that he felt anything more than a shadow of kindness towards a fond memory.

Then one morning came an e-mail. It wasn’t personal per se, but enough of a glimmer for me to call him up just one more time.

Botticelli picked up, “Coucou. Long time!”

“Finally, finally, I got through to you!”, I laughed.

“Do you want to have lunch? I’ll be operational in an hour,” he said closing the conversation.

I threw my hangover out the window, jumped into the shower, changed three times, and flew through the streets, singing, “Ain’t no sunshine” at the top of my lungs.

What was meant to be lunch, turned out to be a glorious feast, followed by a walk, the pinching of cheeks, incessant talking, remembering, sharing, brainstorming, sketching, working, hugging and holding, holding, holding unto the dearest.

People have come and people will go, but the ones with who time stands frozen are the people one must shelter from one’s vanities and selfish whims. People that will care about you will be few; they will be few when you are twenty and they will be few when you are eighty.

I have betrayed my responsibility towards them. I thought that if I had been dispensable to others, others should become dispensable to me. People can make it almost impossible with their parade of foolishness, but they must not be taken lightly. Ultimately, you should dispense of those that you cannot care for, those that you cannot give anything back to, those that are beyond your reach. Dispense of empty relationships, but own up to those that try despite your own foolish circus.

I had betrayed him. I am sure of it because I sensed a shift in responsibility. I had always thought that he owed me something for being distant, for keeping me at bay, but he was right to do so. And now, sitting there with him, listening to his actions, he didn’t have to say a word for me to realize that he had given me something worth guarding. I am in debt for his honesty and I have to make it up in weight.

It was past midnight and I didn’t want to leave, I was fearful that my harebrained pack of wolves would have me running with them to sniff out buried bones the moment I stepped beyond the threshold of his home. Fifty-nine moons had risen and fallen, to howl yet again seemed almost primitive, to promise anything was just as wise, but I felt it this time, I felt it against my ribcage, that I should never, never ever let him go again.




I’m sleepless in Be-uprooted.

The day had been heavy. It was impossible to shake off the feeling of unease. Lebanon was shaken hard. I was tired, but I didn’t want to come home to echoing footsteps. I washed away the day’s worth of smoke and dirt, wore light colours, no black. Deep breath. 21:00. Time to leave.

Kavinsky had already set the table. He poured the champagne and served me the quinoa salad he claimed to have made. It was delicious, but was he capable of delicious?

“You look great. I really like what you’re wearing! Did you lose weight? There’s something different about you.”

“Maybe a little. But thank you.”

“Sleepless, why do you always complicate things? It’s like I have to run and run after you. Stop playing these games, you’re becoming a typical Lebanese girl…”

I interrupted him then and there, “I am not, shh, shh, I am not and you know that’s not true. You complicate things for me. You are inconsistent. It’s like you change over the course of the day, not to mention the week. I really didn’t like the way you treated me that night, or how you only invite me over at night, for parties, to bring girls. If it weren’t for my conviction that you are not the person you portray yourself to be, I wouldn’t be here. But I know, I know that you are not this sleazeball, this party animal, this whatever…. I understand, we all have to put on a face, especially when we go through difficult times, but don’t put it on for me.”

He went still.

“You like this painting?”

“Do not change the subject. Listen to me, listen to me when I’m trying to say something to you.”

“Sorry, I am listening, I’m listening…”

“I hate playing games. Before, when I used to meet someone new, I’d give him or her my all, my trust and respect and then during the course of the relationship I would play accordingly. But, that hasn’t worked for me. I give too much too fast to people who don’t deserve it. You may not be that person, for all I know, you could be deserving, but you’ve been inconsistent and I cannot give you more than I have been giving because I don’t trust you with it. But really, I’m not like that, I’m the simplest of people.”

“I’m simple too.”

“I’m simple, but over the course of my stay here, the local social dynamics have obliged me to work within it.”

“Can I be straightforward with you? I like to tell things as they are. You know what turned me off about you? All those limits you put. The girls here they think that if they play these games with me, eh w la2, I will pursue them more. I do not understand what they want from me, so I let go completely. I am not interested.”

“I understand your position, but you also have to understand mine. I don’t know you, yet, not enough.”

“It’s been what, half a year now?”

“Yes, but during that time how many times did I see you? Ten?”

“My problem is, I don’t trust people. You’re a smart girl, you know that? You’re dangerous. Very dangerous.”

“I’m learning.”

He had said that before, in March. The first time I dismissed it as pure flirtation, but now, I kind of agreed. Not with the dangerous bit, the smart bit, not intelligence or knowledge, I know my limitations there – I do not know a lot. Yet what I do know, is that I can trust my intuition, and intuition is not just a fairy that lives on your shoulder, intuition is more about subconscious situation assessment. I know that I can trust my intuition, because every time I fuck up, it’s because I waver or think too much. Every time I become flustered, it is because my thoughts are too loud and I cannot hear that inner voice. I mustn’t think; I should learn to let my brain think quickly, efficiently, and then take it from there.

What I was thinking at that moment was the following: he is discussing limits and portraying them in a negative light, so that he could manipulate the situation in his favour.

What my brain was relaying to me, via intuition, was that I felt good, better. I felt like he was being honest. He was not making up love stories, nor was he the kind of man who was incapable of being open-minded or simple. He very well could. If I could be, why couldn’t he?

After dinner, we went outside. He motioned for me to sit next to him. I thought, no, this is too close for comfort.  But I felt, like yes, I wanted to feel the warmth of another human being. So I shut up and sat down.

It was the perfect close to a hefty day. The sea and the sky were pitch black, only the lights of the fishing boats spoke of teeming water. The city was far away. There was only the sound of waves, the wind in the tall grass and the random frog ribbit ribbit every now and then. His dog was curled up next to our feet, excluded, but loyal.

Kavinsky placed my hand in his and I was surprised I didn’t flinch. This was it; I was going to listen to the brain pixie. I was going to immerse myself in the Kavinsky experience to see where it would take me. No pre-meditated limits, only the considering of immediate comfort zones.

He was now curled up next to me like a baby. It didn’t feel smart, nor did it feel dangerous, it simply felt good.

It felt good to believe that there was a chance this inferno of moderation and sobriety would be put out. I may have finally met my match: somebody who never stayed around for long, who locked all doors before going to bed, but always kept the windows open, somebody who was essentially lonely, too proud to admit it, yet always hopeful to stumble upon momentary tenderness.

I left my mind outside, with crossed arms and a vexed frown, to watch over the whining dog that couldn’t make sense of what had come over his master and friend.

We would bring it to boil, then let it simmer, boil and simmer, boil and simmer, until the heat became unbearable and we unglued and reconciled with the idea that today we would keep it civil.

“You want dessert? I have the most amazing chocolate cake ever”, he proposed.




I’m sleepless in Beirut.

The following evening, I told Yamamoto that I had resumed contact with Kavinsky and that I had spent the previous evening with the girls and his friend.

She was skeptical and slightly taken aback.

“You know I was giving him attitude because of what he did to you. If I knew this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have been that rude. You’re my friend; what you do reflects on me.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong. Chou, you would have wanted to accept his invitations to dinners, boat trips and house parties?”

“No, but I would have handled it better.”

In the midst of our conversation Kavinsky messaged me asking me where I was and whether we wanted to join him and his friend at Lux.

“What should I tell him?”

“Yalla, let’s go see him. He doesn’t know I’m with you, does he?”

We paid our bill and drove down to the port. They were sitting at the bar, winding pasta into beehives with their forks.

It was an easy evening, discussions of the market and discussions of iPhone apps.

“Look, I have this app that can take your pulse. Here, place your finger over the camera…” his buddy entertained us.

Once more, Kavinsky was being obscure and distant.

“You know what I feel like? Watching a movie.”

“But it’s past eleven, no cinema will have a new session now!”

“We could all go to his place, it’s not far...”

We weren’t going to take the bait, innocent or not. Always tired, we, always tired. Kavinsky must be starting to doubt the strength of my immune system.

The following afternoon I saw him at the traffic light. I called him up to share the coincidence. I love coincidences; they make me smile.

“Sleepless, hello, ah, really? Where were you? Listen can I call you back?”

Ten minutes later I received a message saying he was dealing with some family issues. He was sorry.

And then I forgot about him, until weeks later when my phone announced his birthday. I wished him well, and he called me back.

“Where are you?”

“In Bekaa.”

“Coming back tonight?”

“Yes, but we might be back rather late.”

“Let’s do something. We can have a small party at my house, bring your friends.”

“Let me see what I can do.”

But then it hit me: I am no pimp and I am not one to accept all these late night invitations to private pool parties with girls and questionable outcomes.

“Hey, listen, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it tonight.”

“It’s okay. Enjoy your day.”

And that was that I thought. The end of Kavinsky. The final chapter. The end of the chronicles. And I was fine with it. There was nothing in it for me. And nothing in it for him either.

The thing about coincidences is that they feed my belief that there is something of a plan for each one of us, a sort of template, a map of our pathways, possible crossings and detours and roundabouts. I do not think it is something as strict as fate or destiny, because we are indecisive and we choose and then we change our minds and we choose a hundred times over. I feel that it’s more of a map of possibilities; a magic map if you will, that is constantly evolving and is connected to the maps of other people. I have this other belief, that the universe sends you signs, and if it is generous it will send you back the ones you’ve missed or dismissed. When I saw Kavinsky’s name appear on my phone a month after his birthday, I was beginning to think that this was a deliberate knock on my door that I had to answer. A half yearlong knock must mean this future event wants to, almost needs to, occur. I couldn’t tell whether it was the knock of an unavoidable death sentence, or whether it was a missing piece of some puzzle that was being entrusted and so viciously thrust upon me.

“Hey, how are you? Long time. I miss you. What are you up to?”

“I’m heading north on some family business, how have you been?”

“Good, good, I’m with my friend, just came back from Europe. I’d like to see you. Pass by tonight.”

“Say hi to him. I can’t, I’m travelling tomorrow myself.”

“When will you be back?”

“In a little more than a week.”

He was good at that, remembering when to call, promising to call and keeping his word. So far, this was the only constant quality to him apart from his habit of starting conversation with “where are you?”.

He called me a few days after my return, he was in Gemmayze, I was going home.

“Tabb call me Friday and we’ll see.”

He called me on Thursday. And then he called me on Friday.

“Listen Kavinsky, I am working hard these days and leave work exhausted, can we please just do something on the weekend, during the day?”

“I’m proud of you! …I have people visiting me, and they are here till next week, so this weekend I cannot promise anything. How about tonight? Dinner? Early? Can you do 19h?”

“Errrhm…I leave work around 19h and then I need to go home, shower, rest a bit.”

“What time do you want? 21h? I’ll cook dinner.”

“Fine, but I need to tell you something. Please, no funny business. Take it easy on me.”

“Don’t complicate things, I’m attracted to you, you’re attracted to me, we’re not getting married. Just come, and I’ll take it easy.”

This insisting, this constant knocking tuck tuck tuck tuck tuck tuck tuck, maybe meant that somebody wanted to come in, badly, for whatever reason. But before I would even consider answering it, I had to listen to my self, closely.




I’m on a roll today in Beirut.

My parents were back in town and after a long humid day of shopping, we stopped for a coffee at Gordon’s. My dad was losing my mom’s attention with an historical political story, while I was grumpy that he hadn’t liked my new long black dress. Aren’t fathers supposed to like length?

“Sleepless!” boomed a voice from beyond our table. “How are you?!”

Oh dear destiny, why now and why him. Act normal; do not arouse suspicion in the elders.

“Hey, I’m good. How are you? Long time. What are you doing here?”

“I’m renting a room here for a couple of days and then I’ll be traveling.”

“Mom, Dad, this is Kavinsky. My parents.”

“Hello, nice to meet you. So what have you been up to these days?”

“Spending time with the family, yeah... Well, it was nice to see you.”

“You too, take care.”

As soon as Kavinsky was out of earshot, my dad asked “Min hay?”

“He’s a friend. Remember that dinner party I went to?”

“La2, I mean, min hay?”

I elaborated a little and to my utter surprise my father relaxed.

“They are such a nice family. We met with his parents once on business; they have a very beautiful house, very cultured people, and not snobby! His mother…what an elegant lady, she served us – ‘this is our wedding porcelain set, it is the first time we use it’. Very nice family...”

Oh dear father if only you knew what a nice asshole he had been a few months ago, but I’d rather you didn’t. My mom though, she knew that there were more colours to this “boy” from such a nice family.

“That’s the crazy guy. The one I told you about.”

“Really? But he looks much younger!”

“What?! No! You didn’t see him properly. He’s your age!”

So not only did Kavinsky call me the following day to tell me that I looked all cute sitting there with my parents, but every now and then my dad asks me about him.

“So, do you still hear from Kavinsky?”

“No dad, he is going through a lot of stuff right now, and I do not want to be a part of it.”

Clearly, dad’s approval, though misinformed, softened me a little. I refused to think that this ‘such a nice family’ could have given birth to a domino that would set my life into derail. Apart from that tights n’ shower episode, Kavinsky had been quite a pleasant distraction. To top it all off, and this was the tricky bit, I had found him attractive. I liked the colour of his skin against mine, the lush carpet of his hairy chest, his perfectly shaped hands, the sound of his deep voice and the doughy quality of his body. He was a passionate man, and of that, I was certain.

But, I had seen a glimpse of his ugliness and I was weary. I deserved better, I did, and maybe he too deserved another chance. I have been handing them out for a long time now and who was to say that it had to stop with him – every case warrants a bespoke trial. On that thought, I dropped a notch in my attitude by the end of the conversation.

“Can I see you when I’m back?”

“Fine, call me.”

And so, three weeks later, as promised – he was very good at that – he invited me for dinner. And an hour later he called me back to invite me on a boat. And an hour after that, he told me that his friend would be joining us and that I was more than welcome to invite my friends and that a little boat party would be much more fitting for this summer evening. Fine by me; the more to test the waters with, the merrier.

My friend from Paris was in town, and only the previous night we had celebrated her birthday, so I thought why not take this girl out on a boat and see Beirut twinkle. She was fun, easy-going and not judgmental – plus, I had already told her about Kavinsky, so there wouldn’t be any awkward stares in my direction once she’d meet the pair that was nearly twice our age. To add to the mix in our favour, we invited Ohlalah, her hot friend from Paris.

We arrived at St.Georges, swimming suits in hand, expecting a thrilling night swim in the middle of pitch-black water, but instead we were greeted with an anchored boat, sushi and champagne. Kavinsky’s friend did not turn out to be a douche and we reveled in his pleasant lightness while Kavinsky’s mind was elsewhere, gazing into silent space…

But around midnight, feeling apologetic for misleading us with the idea of a boat party, Kavinsky suggested we head to his place for a night swim, some music…

It was a drive away, but we were all in a good mood and I was kind of looking forward to replacing the final memory of that house with something brighter.

Birthday Girl and I were the last to arrive and when we walked in through the open door and on to the terrace we knew that if anyone were watching us from the tall reeds, it would have appeared to them as though Hugh Hefner’s own private Tinkerbell had sprinkled some of its magic dust over the place. Fortunately for us, we stood from within the bubble and saw nothing but a story to be remembered.

The swim was a refreshing escape from the hot, humid air and Kavinsky and I were alone in the corner.

“So you don’t know why I never wanted to see you again?”

“No. Why?”

“Because you totally and utterly embarrassed me. What you said to me that evening was so rude.”

“I didn’t mean it that way.”

“Well, you should know that you cannot say such things to people.”

“I really didn’t mean to say it like that.”

When it was time to leave, Kavinsky had somehow discovered that Ohlalah was without a car for the week, and he was now offering her his set of wheels.

“Take it, I won’t be needing it this week. Really. I once lent it to a friend for weeks.”

“Are you sure?” she asked with a nasal voice that was an undesired consequence of a nose job.

I looked over to Birthday Girl and she was as apprehensive as I – “she shouldn’t take it!” we agreed telepathically.

But she did and I was glad that at least it was Ohlalah and not Birthday Girl – I would be one degree further from the shadow of bad behavior.

Then again, were it not for Ohlalah’s presence, Birthday Girl and I would have had to bear the weight of the guys’ attention all alone. It had been a fun evening after all.

Kisses on the cheek, kisses on the cheek, our convoy left the premises. I was happy Birthday Girl agreed to share with me this moment in time, and grateful that she had made it light and easy with her boisterous laughter, and even though I had never ridden in one before and was dying to feel its rumble, I was glad she was the one who was dropped home in a frisky Ferrari.




I’m unloading outdoors in Beirut.

He was relentless. “Was nice talking to you though :)”. Didn’t reply. “Hey…hope you’re  well…Kavinsky”

What was I going to do with this one…I didn’t want to push him away, but neither did I want to lift a finger. He’d have to work a little harder this time.

The first week that followed our initial meeting was exciting. He called me up on the weekend and I accepted his invitation for an hour long lunch in the old port, and then he took me out to dinner, I came with Foux to his lavish house party where Kavinsky wouldn’t leave my side for longer than he could allow himself, he picked me up the following day and we went to his friend’s conference in AUB, we had lunch in Hamra, passed by his flat for an afternoon siesta, I then went on to another AUB lecture and he went to a business dinner. Later, Yamamoto and I met up with Scooter, a nice guy I had met at the house party, for drinks in Gemmayze, we met his friends, it was fun, and we continued the evening by joining the other party guests Downtown, where Kavinsky reappeared…and paid their bill. I felt like that was a bit off…and clearly unnecessary; they were all employed…The previous night I had thought they were fun and easy-going, but now, I started to see the bigger picture. These people he called friends, were just in it for the breadth of his wallet.

“Where are you guys going next?”

“Behind the Green Door and then maybe B0!”

“Let’s head back home,” I whispered into Kavinsky’s ear. I did not want to witness any more of this bullshit.

“I’m tired. We’ll party another time. Call you tomorrow”, he said.

They didn’t even insist. I guess they could afford the rest of the night on their own.

He asked me to come over, but I declined. Always tired, me, always tired.

The following week, he invited me for a smaller gathering “to enjoy the leftovers of the big house party”. This time, I’d bring Yamamoto with me.

That morning, I had packed my purple heels, a light summer dress and a navy cotton sweater. Then in the car, on my way out, I thought of the chilly March sea breeze and stopped by for a pair of stockings. “One pair, matte, nude please.”

I had to work till late, so I changed into the evening outfit in the bathroom and came straight to his place, half an hour earlier than the rest, like a boss. That last detail I hadn’t been sure about, but Foux thought nothing of it and encouraged me to show that little extra something whatever.

The door was open; he greeted me, poured me a glass of white wine and out of the blue wanted to dance. I didn’t feel comfortable. It felt like a page in a hidden agenda.

And then he said, “You know, you dress funny.”

Come again? I was sure I looked decent. It couldn’t have been the purple shoes – they were quirky but cute.

“Your tights. They don’t look nice.”

I looked down and he was right. That lady had given me the shiny ones, the ones that make your legs look like sausages wrapped up in cellophane. I was suddenly embarrassed – this was all taking an unexpected turn. Of course I would take them off; they were hideous. I took a moment in the bathroom, there, all better.

He held me close for a dance.

“What’s that smell?”

Huh? I froze.

“Did you take a shower?”

“Yes…this morning.” I was flustered, cheeks ablaze.

“Here, smell here,” he motioned to my shoulder. I turned my nose. Fine, there was a faint body smell, maybe I took the wrong sweater, maybe, but was he serious? I wanted to run the fuck out of there, but Yamamoto was on her way and I did not want to explain to her what had just happened.

“Wait, I have something in the car.”

“You could use my shower. I can give you clothes. Don’t worry, I will not walk in on you.”

And guess what ladies and gents, I actually went to take that shower. If there was ever a moment in my life where I felt mortified that was it, but what mortifies me the most, to this day, was the fact that I went downstairs and took that shower. Where was my pair? Where were my pink testicles of self-respect? Did they slipped off with my stockings?

Yamamoto arrived when I was all fresh and dressed, but the mood was strange. I introduced them, we were talking and then his phone rang.

“Hey! You’re coming? When? Great. I can’t wait to see you. Take care. See you soon – this is my friend from the UK. I named my boat after her.”

Yamamoto was pouring herself a glass of wine in the dining room, so I leaned in.

“She must be a very special friend for you to name a boat after…”

“You know, a friend, like you and I,” he said with a smile that I did not like.

And then the guests started arriving. There was Scooter, some new faces and the troupe of free loaders that I couldn’t but feel disgust for.

Kavinsky was now in the dining room laughing with the whole lot of them. Yamamoto and I went out for a one-on-one in the darkness.

“I don’t like the way he touches you.”

“I don’t know what I’m doing here.”

“Let’s just leave.”

“But we just came.”

“Do you really want to stay?”

We finished our drinks, took a few farewell pictures and went back in to bid our goodbyes.

“You’re leaving?! So soon? You cannot be serious,” he protested.

Always tired, we, always tired. He came with us to the coatroom, still unbelieving.

“I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”

“It was nice meeting you Kavinsky. Goodbye.”

The gust of fresh air, the churning gravel and the walk away away further away felt like an escape from hell. He stood there on the steps, lit by the tall rectangle of light, probably wondering how I had found that secret hiding place where he had stowed away my balls.

That was it for me. The end of Kavinsky. The end of that world of fake friends and lavish lifestyle that I had mistakenly stumbled into. This was not my place. Not yet.

But as the small size of Beirut would have it, there is never a final end…