“When you finally go back to your old hometown, you find it wasn’t the old home you missed but your childhood” Sam Ewing
I realized when thinking about the subject matter of this blog that it would have been much easier had I chosen the opposite title, “what I miss least about Lebanon”. That would have been quite concise as an article. Where to begin listing what one likes about one’s home. How do you quantify nostalgia for a place you spent your adult life running away from? How do you verbalize intense longing for streets where you ran as bullets ricocheted on your way to and from a shelter. Is it possible to have an intense feeling of loss when not living in a place where one saw death at a young age, senseless death of friends, in a war one understood nothing of, and lived through like a spectator forced to experience the whole drama. But that is not the part that springs to my mind when Lebanon is mentioned. I drift to thoughts of friendships, too strong to be waned by distance and time.
I think of the music, going out to dance, and then seriously and wholeheartedly dance till dawn, going for an after party breakfast before heading home, laughing and recounting the events of the night with a friend, and waking up a few hours later to go to work or university or whatever people do when they are not partying. Living life to the full was a fact we all accepted as the antidote to the horrors that were happening around us. You had to live it up, even if you died trying. A few of our friends did, die trying. I got kidnapped trying. With a group of friends, now scattered all over the world. They are forever my partners in that adventure, we cemented our friendship when we said goodbye to each other in that dark night in Beirut, battles raging around us, at a moment we were certain we were going to get shot. I appreciated that night what sheep must have felt when led to the slaughter. Not unlike us that night, they adopt a resigned attitude, they accept the eventuality of it all. I don’t miss that part of life in Beirut.
I miss the humanity that unites friends being kidnapped together and saying goodbye to each other, accepting the destiny that was to unite them. In a moment of survival instinct that night, I blew it. I went to one of our kidnappers, and asked him if he would let us three girls go free and take our two male friends instead. I didn’t think of what I was asking, I just wanted not to be raped by the horribly smelly men with beards who were threatening to kill us. My two friends who I offered as a hostage in our place remind me of what I said until now. One of them is still my best friend, and I love him dearly, but I could have lost him if the heavens did not intervene to keep the five of us together with the gruff men, who turned out to be after our money and jewelry at the end of the day.
I loved my life in Beirut at all times, the good and the bad, the sense of recklessness that defined everything we did, defying death many times, and having a warped sense of who we were, and how oblivious we were to our insignificance in the grand scheme of things. How expandable we were back then, the very definition of collateral damage. I still miss Lebanon despite everything. There is more to reminisce about in future entries, but this experience came to mind tonight and had to be recounted. Maybe because I spoke to one of my kidnap adventure friends when I was recently in New York, and how happy I was to hear his voice. You rock, Arian Doc. Thanks for teasing me about my brainlessness that night, my humanity is strengthened each time we talk about it.