For a friend

I know not how to make my voice say

That my heart cries for you today,

And I know not how to comfort thee

With much more than an earnest plea;

Today I ask all angels in the sky

To turn each gasp and every cry

Into beds of roses for her to sleep,

And may your soul learn not to weep

For we’re all but visitors doing time

Till those promised bells begin to chime.

We are so near the sweet departed

Who want us not so broken-hearted;

Despite the void and all the pain,

Remember not these days of rain

But count the days of sunny splendor

Given to us by ones so tender.

It is not far, this new hello

Though hours seem to pass so slow,

We’ll see their bright faces again

So keep in mind that until then

If your strength begins to sway

I am only a few steps away.

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Half sunken friendships

Over the years, we shed friends like a snake sheds its old skin, leaving behind what no longer suits our current state of being. We walk away and take with us memories, remnants of those other humans forever stitched onto us.

As friends, we learn intimate details about one another, whether personal or random, things like favourite colours, birthdays or allergies; we learn them out of necessity, out of duty and out of love,  however varying the degree of it is. We accumulate knowledge of these other entities, keep our expertise of them safe within, willfully forgetting how possible all of it might one day become useless or obsolete. Friendships end, it is a fact human nature forces us to forget each time we embark on a new shared adventure, and so does our knowledge of all things pertaining to our once close chosen relation; we pick people, and we also choose to let them go, whether willingly or reluctantly. We’re no longer updated with joyful news, little tidbits of their daily lives, changes big or small…we are the strangers we first started as…but with baggage too deeply engraved to be forgotten. “No, don’t put strawberries on the cake she can’t…actually, go ahead, never mind…”. “Ahhh it’ s today, I forgot to wish…upon a star”. Sometimes it slips our mind, their sudden absence, how their importance weighs less on our life and heart..or does it really? Is every relationship we’ve built and forsaken truly erased from our hearts as from our minds, or does it all remain deeply etched under newer, kinder, better constructed ones?

Things change, but we remain marked, stained with little specks of all the somebodies we once knew, forced to deny how present they once were, unable to forget they were…so very there.

A slice of happy

There comes a day in every person’s life, hopefully not too late, when they open their eyes and realize: you don’t need much to be happy, very little really, much less than you ever thought possible, much less than seemed plausible.

They try to sell you dreams, the wrong ones, the long ones, filled with glitter and champagne, all fun and no pain, hiding the truth in magazine cuts, movies and songs painting pictures too vivid to be real, images of lives we never get to live or feel. Happiness isn’t found in high heels and overpriced steak dinners, it’s not hidden in bad radio music and drunken parties, in cheap motel rooms or expensive electronics, it’s in those moments at the cash register, right before the bill arrives, that moment before the dream becomes too real and dies, when the steak is still appetite, the party still expectations, the room still neat and the game still a brand new toy to be plugged in and soon worn out. Happiness is in the thought of happiness, the moment before, the seconds that lead up to what we think is true joy. Happiness is in the head, in the slow buildup, the heart’s crescendo, an illusion soon gone to be resuscitated with yet another dream.

Don’t be fooled, this isn’t a sad post, no bitterness here or hopeless wanderings of the mind; this is a reminder that happiness is self-made, one that’s present before the material things arrive, before the media’s intervention, before money is thrown and the mind drowned in alcoholic hallucinations. Happiness is everywhere, ephemeral but continuous, abstract yet concrete, misconstrued but reachable by every single seeker of magic. Happiness is free, it’s in the eyes of that one person who stands by you, it’s in the heartbeat of one that leans in closer, in every sunrise and every sunset right before each day begins and at the close of every tiresome string of hours. It’s in every expectation and every success, in each new experience and every resurfacing memory. Happiness is more human than you’ll ever know, the most beautiful illusion, the most magical reality. I’m happy, hope you’re happy too.

I dip, you dip, we all dip for change

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Today I voted. I usually abhor the simple idea of politics, but today wasn’t about politics for me, it was about my city, the one I grew up in, the city I walked around a million times, sometimes half-heartedly, sometimes reluctantly, but it is still where I’m from, and that was what drove me to dress and dip half my thumb in stubborn purple ink.

First of all, it was probably a bad idea to wear white with all the ink my clumsy self had to keep from my clothes. On a more serious note, as I said a few lines earlier, I have often looked at my city in a negative way, almost disgusted by what it has managed to become compared to what it used to be; maybe that’s the problem. No, that is exactly the problem. Beirut is my city and I should love it, I should cheer for it, and most importantly, we should all stop whining about the current situation and the many years Beirut has been condemned to endure with no improvement to its situation and shake things up. Well, obviously, we don’t all have solutions or the right voice to fix things, but a group of people, with the mindset many of us have been lacking, decided to take matters into their own hands and push through the black hole that is our hand-me-down municipality to give us all a chance to see things change, to hope, and to stop repeating the same bloody mistake of re-electing incompetent self -loving individuals. Things can change, but only if we allow them to, and only if we work towards improvement. There is no such thing as not loving one’s city, even if elsewhere seems nicer, even if the city has done you harm or anything that would make you not care for it; each city should be respected and loved if just in remembrance of those who once made it great,  of all those who on a daily basis still strive to make things better, in honor of a land that hosted us even though we managed to sabotage it daily with our unconscious neglect. Beirut rose 7 times, Beirut survived several wars and countless idiots, and that alone should push us all to care enough to fix it, give it a chance to become once again a city to be proud of.

I voted today, because I have undying hope in my heart that some day soon, the city I keep trying to run away from… will have me running back to it.

Wrong side of the world

“Must’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed”. What if, instead of devising which side of the mattress is more convenient to stand up from, we realized we wake up daily on the wrong side of the planet?

A French friend posted an article on Facebook yesterday talking about how more and more of her compatriots are choosing to leave their country in search of better horizons. I wondered – thinking of how beautiful life in France seemed to me who’s always felt stuck in a country I’ve never deemed comfortable – how differently we each perceive the places that aren’t “ours”. It’s a beautiful thing to witness the traditions and customs of various cultures, and I’ve pondered several times the idea that maybe the multiple immigrated masses are, by making this mixture possible, contributing to the annihilation of separate identities and creating a cosmopolitan world with the qualities intrinsic to each country slowly becoming a vague historical memory. Notwithstanding how sad this makes me feel, thinking of how the idiosyncrasies of the world will someday be obsolescent notions of the past, a part of me knows we aren’t all meant for the soil we took our first steps on, and that however patriotic one wants to be, the impossibility of identifying by force with a culture or population too different from one’s natural inclinations make immigration a much more plausible solution than brainwashing oneself in order to fit into a carcass evidently inadequate. It isn’t easy, leaving, looking back and acknowledging that our past is just that: passed. It is however a healthier alternative in the long run to becoming a disillusioned adult forcedly accepting a future too different from the one we envisioned as hopeful children.

“Your future awaits” they tell the kids, but what awaits us in the future when we accept the things we know are not made for us? What becomes of those who stay when every atom of their being urges them to go?

The fruit of death

I haven’t posted in a week. The reason? Death. No, nobody close to me has died recently, I haven’t been grieving any particular loss, I’ve just been in deep contemplation of the idea of dying, the mourning process, and the aftermath. How does one live after death?

Cher asked “do you believe in life after love?”to which I always answer moodily, depending on when the song starts playing. However, do you believe in life after death? If so, how does one continue, and what scars does parting bestow on those still living? It is unarguably easy to die; once you’re gone you’re free, whether you’ve spent the last ten months in a hospital bed, or fell asleep to never wake up, when the light goes out it’s over, for you and whoever is left. I was five the first time I became aware of someone’s passing. I had been sitting with her a day earlier in her bed. She was attached to machines, yet when she saw me holding a pack of fresh figs, her favourite fruit, she sat up and peeled some for both of us. At 5 years old, you just don’t get it, the tubes and the blood bags…you’re just aware of the lingering smell hospitals are so known for – I hate that smell. The next day, I was in the stairway ready to find her room when they told me I wasn’t to see her anymore. Ever. I remember that staircase so well, the white banister, the hermetically closed window… you don’t forget the places where all of a sudden your life derails from its tranquil course. My grandmother also loved figs, she had a big tree in her garden and when we’d walk by it, she’d pick a few and share her tree’s bearings with me. When she passed, nobody told me; being in the middle of my exams, nobody wanted to distract me with the news I’m still struggling with 8 years later. Figs… we pick strange things to remember, strange things to hold onto, strange things to move on with… Whenever I eat figs I need silence, and until recently, I had never understood why, the reason I so naturally slipped into a meditative state every time I had any. As I watched a small video on death and how people continued after witnessing loved ones depart from their presence, it hit me: I haven’t moved on, I haven’t forgotten, I live with death every day and I smile. Not because they’re gone, but because through the simple act of peeling a fig and sensing its sweetness in silence, I am once again the little 5 year old with the two old ladies that marked my childhood so evidently.

Nostalgia is mourning the death of the past, it is lived through our senses; smells, sounds, textures, sights and tastes all hold our memories, patiently waiting to revive what we thought had left us forever. Maybe in the end we’re only memories, pacing through others’ minds, and when we’re not being remembered, we sleep, unaware of our short-lived existence having ended. I suppose death is not so frightening after all.

Always is never enough

Alan Rickman has just died. Same week as Bowie, same age, both cancer-stricken, both British. Well the Brits always had a peculiar sense of humor…I bet they had made a pact to meet up on the stage beyond, David performing and Alan narrating his new story; two beautiful charismatic beings captured on film and tape, two souls too free to capture and keep alongside us.

I had been feeling under the weather since last weekend, and these two deaths confirmed my mood: this week is simply better forgotten with its morbidly dark content. These two were true artists, they left us with an undeniable musical and cinematic heritage that we will definitely “always” cherish. However, always just doesn’t seem enough; they can no longer reinvent themselves, stuck in every character they’ve ever incarnated, from Ziggy and Major Tom to Snape and Colonel Brandon, and every one in between, never again to experience those they had no time to become. Always is short, even if we as spectators can still rejoice in their presence as we replay their masterpieces, that’s it, it’s over, their chance is gone. That’s the tricky part of life, the one that says once your eyes close, all your potential closes with them, trapped beyond the realm of the living, kept from us here still panting from the last time we experienced their intrepid energy. However, unlike us mere mortals, they live on in the millions of admiring fans they accumulated with every winning performance. Alan Rickman embodied talent and charisma, a sense of humor that helped him even when playing evil or stern characters, as I loved watching his off-screen bloopers, and he always managed to amaze me with his acting skills, skills not so common in today’s world cinema. He worked with his gut, his wits and his heart; the way I believe we all should.

In the end, celebrities are of no bigger importance than anyone else, but when brilliant people become famous like the aforementioned two, there’s no denying the world knows loss once they’re gone. Farewell Mr.Rickman, and every time I’ll watch one of your movies and weep, and around me they’ll ask “after all this time?” I’ll unfailingly answer “always”.