I’m sleepless in Beirut.
My second cup of espresso has just been emptied and my phone is constantly by my side – a week of revisiting old friendships has left me hungry and tired.
I have laid to rest the question of home, at least for now. I mustn’t shake my ground every chance I get. It’s a fact: my heart has been split into four. I’ve rooted each cut in four different corners of the globe and I have no choice but to appreciate the fact that every time I return, they will be there waiting for me to nurture them further.
During my flight, I had decided that for the moment my place was here in Beirut. It didn’t deserve to be dismissed just because I had allowed my life to stagnate. Beirut was not the problem, I was.
And it was a challenge to turn around in the airplane and see that it was barely making quarter capacity, to walk through a ghost filled airport and into a loud argument between taxi drivers, past the soldiers adorned with death hanging from shoulder straps, to have a random volunteer ignore me as he stuffed the suitcase into the bulimic trunk, to get to Achrafieh in 10minutes on a Saturday night
“Are you sure nothing is happening that they haven’t shared on the news?”
to wake up tired, to have salesladies expect some kind of good service from me, to see young men do wheelies on the southern highway at 120km/hr, to pray that the shaky wheel doesn’t tip one millimeter extra and scar me for life.
What good could come from entertaining provocation? I nursed the scattered irritations to rest.
The entire day I couldn’t find peace, and when I found myself in the sea of evening traffic flowing back to Beirut, I couldn’t escape myself. My guts were churning with anxious moths, smoke was billowing out the window like I was on a freight train and my voice was at its peak rapping the same four songs over and over again.
Somewhere near the airport tunnel I spotted the Red flag. I was missing him damn it. I just wished he were here so I could walk him through this gallery of Bacons and Dalis. Red would always listen. He’d put on such a patient show that it seemed he was rethinking the same thoughts and feeling the same emotions so that he could – one moment – get back to me on the matter. And it was never soiled with judgment.
So I caved in to my expectations of him and sent him a short text
“Am I silly to not be able to get you out of my head?”
“I don’t feel silly, so you shouldn’t.”
Immediately, the tranquilizer was released. Somehow, I felt less guilty about last night. I wondered whether I should tell him, but it would have been the entertainment of provocation. Ever since we broke up on that Valentine’s Day at school, there was no deal to betray. I cared about him deeply and…
“I’m going to bed, but I felt I have to share this: care is an understatement when it comes to u, you bring the best out in me, if that makes sense. I need people like that in my life. Want you to know that.”
I was ecstatic to receive this in the midst of the comedy that was going on at the table. For a long second, I felt like I was safe to make a fool out of myself here tonight because someone out there thought that I was immune to falling low. Bringing out the best in someone? It made sense.
Moments later, Excel called. He was waiting to board the plane. I was glad we would once again have distance between us because now I was sure: Red felt like home and Excel was a public holiday.