Another year, and another promised letter on your birthday.
So many things are happening these days, and I find myself looking forward to this hour I get with you, where I tell you what's been on my mind.
I have to mention at the start of this letter that I started today with an appropriate homage to celebrate your birthday (I suppose I can call it that!), a breakfast at Sousi. I still tell people the story you loved so much to repeat to our friends about my sudden black hole of knowledge concerning "sheep eggs". And you'll be happy to know everyone still finds it funny... I see you laughing now. Stop it.
I am in a state of missing you quite a lot in the last few months. It's weird how grief changes over the years, and the longing for someone shifts. There are days where I don't think of you, and sometimes I wonder if those are wrong days. But I guess you are always there, and I make up for it the days where I find myself wishing I could have a talk with you, ask your opinion about decisions in my life, big ones, and a lot of which are coming up these days.
I'm a lot happier than I have been in a while. Things seem to be stable, and on the right path (I know I mentioned this a lot in my last letter, I guess it's a good sign that I still feel that way up till now.)
I am en route to fulfilling my promise to you of continuing my education. I saw how much it frustrated you that after all those years of work, a simple title and paper would have made things so much easier for you. And I remember your tone when you told me that it should not be a question for me to pursue a masters. So after months of applications and running around and essays and portfolios, I've been accepted at Kingston University in London, in the Illustration masters programme. Now I'm on the last leg of the pushing, and hopefully it'll all work out and I''ll be back home in September, ready to start that adventure. I'm anxious about it all, but I guess that's normal. A lot of changes, leaving Beirut again for a year of school, reconnecting with my friends there, meeting new people, working hard to achieve the best that I possibly can. It's different than an undergraduate degree. Now I know what I want, I'm not too concerned with socialising. I am armed with determination and want to take the most out of this year... Wil kheir la eddem.
After that year, it's all open. I'd like to come back to Beirut, but that depends on a few factors, a couple that are close to my heart. One of them is the state of the country.
Akh, dad, I don't know what to say about Lebanon and Beirut. I wonder so much what you would think, you being who you are and raising me the way I am. It has become a full time job living day to day in Beirut. Things are a mess, ignorance is everywhere, corruption, political mayhem, lack of ethics and civil conscience.
I've defended Beirut so hard in the past, to friends, acquaintances, everyone. I came back while everyone was leaving and not looking back. People thought I was foolish and naive to come back, and yet I planted my feet in the ground, and fought back all their concerns with excuses and excuses and excuses... But I've had enough. It's painful, so very painful to see it this way. No one cares about anyone but themselves. A kind word is hard to come by. And most importantly, making a comfortable living, with not much more than necessities, is a luxury. It really, really upsets me. All of it. The country and it's "rulers" and it's people have let me down enough times that I see very little light.
I still have the sea. At least I have that.
Speaking of the country, I am finally going to meet Michel. He's finally visiting Beirut after many years of telling mum and I that he would. And unfortunately a bit too late to see you. But that's ok. Right?
We've developed a virtual relationship via email, and only recently Skype and Facebook. Crazy how easy it is to get to anyone these days. (Technology these days would really blow your mind dad. Ouf!)
He emails me often to ask about us and emails me photos and stories and music, and I look forward to meeting this part of you. I can't really express the feeling, and it makes me feel bittersweet, so I'd rather stop now. I know it will be good though, that I know.
And on that note, I'll leave you till next year. I hope to have so many good things to tell you then.
Miss you very much. More than you can comprehend.
And the love goes without saying.
Happy birthday Baba.
Birthday Letter 2012
Birthday Letter 2011