I’m sleepless in Beirut.
It’s back to the usual around here. Only two out of sixteen bulbs in the house are lit, my cat is curled up in a bundle and glued to my left hip and I’m at a crossroads of what to do with this evening. Mom texts me to announce that they’ve landed safely and that this time, they really enjoyed their visit.
A few months ago, I finally took the leap and moved out of the parents’ house. Dad was more accepting this time; end of last year I had attempted a two-month long camp out which was met with a “Never do this again.” I had not planned on repeating my felony, at least not so soon after, but when the opportunity prostrated itself on the table the eve of my birthday, I would have been a fool not to jump it.
Three months into living here, and I could not be happier. Home feels like home and it’s been a journey back to enjoying the little things, like walking out of the apartment instead of taking the car, like displaying my little knick knacks from here and everywhere the way I want to, like walking around in nothing or talking to my mind out loud.
But what made me happier still was having my mother and sister choose to stay at my place rather than our house when they came for the weekend. They saw what I saw when I first walked into this apartment, years ago – a space to be in and a space that inspires. What a joy high ceilings are, and what a loss modern day housing has suffered in dropping the room height from 4.00 to 2.80. Here, there is almost enough air to not have one seek it outdoors. Indeed, I have become quite a homebody and that has caused me to be the butt of criticism. Hell, when I was living in a place that did not feel my own, I was never home. And that is the misfortune of most other people my age who fill the streets and sidewalks of Beirut – back home is no more the place where they belong.
It’s wonderful when family is accepting, but growing up entails a pace of change that usually outruns the people that have raised us. At some point in the race, we feel the urge to break away and that is most often than not met with anger or dismay, “Why do you want to leave us?”
My mother puts it well, “I have raised you to be your own person, and as much as I love you, I do not own you. I only hope that I’ve provided enough for you to start your own journey. If you ever need us, we are always here, but do not feel accountable to us. Your happiness is the only thing I want from you.”
And it is because of this particular philosophy of hers that I have been able to summon the strength to do what I really really want this time. In a short span of time, a series of subliminal messages piled up into one big awakening – “The life you want, you have to create it. And the time is: now.”
So like all life turning points go, I went all out: I fell inappropriately in love, I moved out of my nest, I quit my job and I bought myself a new set of wheels: a bicycle.
A month had passed since I last clocked in and by the end of it, I was beginning to panic and ask myself a panel of questions:
Did I quit for a good enough reason?
Isn’t misery just a part of life?
Am I acting like a spoilt brat?
How am I going to pay my rent?
Am I talented enough to do this?
Has my ego brainwashed me?
Do I even know what the fuck I’m doing?
By the end of that week, I was close to falling apart. As I was about to send a kind reminder to the last office I had applied to, my doorbell rang. It was Turns. He never came unannounced, but this time it seems he had felt the urgency for an intervention. After about an hour of pep talk, I was more or less back on my feet, with an elbow on his shoulder for support.
And then, the Universe happened. The following day, I received a request for a meeting from the one and only, The Man – if I ever wanted to work for someone, he would be it. And then, I got a call from my only client who needed me again on a short notice. And then, all heavens broke loose. Suddenly, I went from nobody to somebody everybody wanted.
When I told my mother the story, she replied, “What you experienced was that critical moment of faith under fire. It is at this point where people choose to stick with their gut or cave in to their insecurities and it is one of those decisive moments in the story of your life that make it a story you want to tell or skip through.”
And it is because of this particular philosophy of hers that I decided it would be a good time for my frowned-upon-choice-of-lover Turns and my dear mother to meet.