Sunday, 30 March 2008

Long Way Home

(Written on the way to Beirut, 28th March)
I’m going home today.
I had a horrible time trying to pack the night before. I am usually the kind who takes an hour to pack, not needing a list to guide me, just a flow of logic concerning what I need and what I should be taking. The whole process comes quite easily to me. And yet last night it was like I had never packed before. I was lost, my head was jumbled, and all the crucial items were muddled with the trivial items in my mental list, jumping up and down on the ladder, and when I thought I had remembered one, I look at the list again and it’s gone. I was restless and zonked, and although my eyelids felt like they were being weighed down by my ten ton lashes, I couldn’t sleep. It was after midnight and all I had in my suitcase was a few tops and a pair of jeans, and I book I had bought for my mother. Basically nothing. And the suitcase had been lying open on the floor since the night before, a welcoming void waiting to be filled, a hungry hungry hippo waiting to guzzle whatever I give it.

But I had finally packed it, it took me four hours and a half, but I did it (please note this excludes my hand luggage which I did not do till the next morning, nearly forgetting my house keys and passport in the process – yes. I know.)
As usual the Loatey’s offered me a ride to the airport, and as I walked out into the rain with my suitcase, I looked at the grey sky. Sun. Soon there’ll be the lovely spring warmth of Beirut days and cool breeze of Beirut nights. I constantly checked my pockets and my bag for my passport and tickets, always expecting to not find them, then muttering to myself about my irrational fear when I did.

As I said my goodbyes, I walked towards the terminal building dragging my big suitcase, and I couldn’t help but feel the adrenaline rush into my blood, and my face warm up with the thoughts of home and familiar faces, and above all, a drink at Captain’s Cabin.

Check in took me literally 5 minutes, between finding the right counter and the flirting of the attendant, asking me “aisle or window?” I couldn’t care less.. really, just get me home, and get me home now.
Where are those ruby red shoes when you need them?

I’ve always found airports incredible. These areas of no-man land that govern our emotions with a tight grip, able to make us cry or laugh. I was always ready to offer my services as a ride to or from the airport, because I used to love to observe the humanity and the sentimental interactions that went on in that one specific building. The parents bidding farewell to their child, smiling and yet pain drawing lines into their face as that indestructible chord begins its stretch across continents, and the torment in the shimmer of their eyes reflecting farewell waves and kisses being blown into the sterile air; the crowd of friends applauding and cheering as the missing link in their group pops out the arrival doors, sporting a smile and shaking their head in approved embarrassment; the child running towards its father, being lifted up and soaring with joy in his arms and inquiring about souvenirs fervently, the energy and sentiments so thick you could cut them with a knife, but why would you? This is truly the paramount of humanity, and in my eyes, tampering with it would be criminal, no, pure blasphemy.

If there ever was limbo on earth, it is translated as airports, without a doubt Here Godot is reality, a constant. People are waiting to go to their relative heaven or hell, stuck in no man’s land. The big screen TV in the waiting area of terminal 2 at Heathrow is showing Friday Fry Up, yet another of the many many cooking shows that have taken over the British idiot box (of course sharing it with the equally obtrusive wildlife shows). I sit in one of the rows facing it that makes it feel like a fake cinema, minus the movie of course (unless you count chefs battling over the best dish that can be made in 9 minutes valid entertainment. In that case you should have brought some popcorn because this is your lucky day my friend!)
I don’t mind the solitary travel factor. I enjoy my mouth being shut (no seriously) sometimes I open my mouth just to check its still there. I usually end up listening to my music and observing everyone. All to my own soundtrack, making up scenarios and noting relationships between people. I take another sip of my chai latte, sitting there non chalantly, existing in space and time and yet not, my mind rolling out images of travellers and home all together.

. . .

At this moment I’m in Athens airport, phase two of my limbo. I pause to tell you this because I find myself in quite the comical situation. Let me draw a picture for you. I’m seated in the café/smoking area having some wine with some well deserved rollies after a three hour flight, and two hour wait in smoke free Heathrow. I haven’t spoken a word since I’ve gotten here (so my mouth is practically non existant at this point, were it not for the sipping and puffing duty it had) and judging by the fact that the man at the counter talked to me in Greek when I ordered a wine, no one really knows that I’m Arab, especially with my American passport on the table in front of me keeping my wine glass and ashtray company. Except perhaps for the Palestinian kufiyeh wrapped well around my neck. This is an important detail, pay attention now. On my left is a trio of Lebanese who walked in a few moments after me. The usual bunch of youths, one stylishly wearing a piercing and glasses, another a lanky charismatic dude, the life of the party cracking jokes and the sort. And the third a nerdy business man type, in a shirt and neat shoes, but obviously the most socially inept, sitting silently yet attentively listening to the conversation taking place between his peers, casually intervening with a comment or two. Now the interesting part. In walks a hippie looking guy, toting a guitar (and you know how I am with musicians, especially guitarists) so he grabs my interest for a few moments. He sits himself on my right, literally less than a metre away. He looks at me for a minute, and I cant crack the body language, but ok, I continue typing onto my computer rolling a cigarette simultaneously, and then guitarist dude opens a book upright, (i.e. not flat on the table) as if to make it a point that I am able to see it. And its in Hebrew. I start laughing, I can’t help it. I’m sitting in the middle of the middle eastern conflict, in limbo, waiting for a plane home. And now the Lebanese group on my left has been joined by a few Egyptians that were on a neighbouring table and heard the mother tongue and (as we Arabs do) invited themselves to unify the nations. And to top it all off earring glasses guy has taken out his laptop and is playing dabke music (since from the few words I caught in between the songs playing through my headphones their topic was music and fairuz and abdel wahab and so on)
Please, picture this. A group of arabs playing “Hela hela” and chatting away on one side, a lone Israeli/Jewish guitarist on the other side, and me with my politically obvious scarf in the middle. Don’t tell me the wine has gotten to me, its pure comedy. Someone bring in the clowns. Oh, and mr guitar here just asked (with the typical and expected spot of fear in his eyes) for some of my rolling tobacco. Hey. We’re in limbo. Reality doesn’t exist here, and if anything, I’m not going to react, I’m setting an example for those who think we Arabs act purely on our frustration and bottled emotions (although I was tempted to scream “WHAT? OUR LAND, YOU TAKE OUR LAND, AND ON TOP OF IT MY TOBACCO? YOU GUYS REALLY DON”T KNOW WHERE TO STOP DO YOU????) But I didn't. At least not out loud. There. There was my Arab anger. I feel a bit better now. Although I do wish I had some hizbullah march tunes to add a bit more spice to this already flavoured scene. Oh well.

Episode over, my laptop battery is beginning to pant and to be honest my fingers are tired. Next time I write it will be from home, and that’s a whole other story. If anything interesting happens on the rest of the way home, I'll be sure to mention it..
Oh, how nice. The one man band on the right of me has fallen asleep. I hope you get nightmares.

Over and out.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes..

I was in a snow globe of my own this weekend..
What a feeling. The perfect beginning for a quiet sunday.
I woke up at 7 am, after sleeping quite late, (that was not the perfect beginning I can tell you) but as I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, I turned in my bed and my eyes fell on a christmas scene. Snow was falling outside.

It had snowed the day before, but not this strong, and not at 7 am where no one was stirring.. not even a mouse (ironically we saw a mouse in our kitchen today.. but thats a story for another day, and to an audience of cats...)

I looked on, sprawled warmly in the sanctuary of my duvet, taking it all in, allowing my senses to rise and shine, listening to the sound of my heart beat and my breathing.
I haven't seen snow falling in so long, perhaps since I was 5 or 6 and still living in London.
I turn my head to the left, and gaze at the photo perched protectively on my bedside table. It's one of my father and I, taken when I was 5 or so, in the garden of our house in London, surrounded by snow. Dad is wearing an orange and red woolly hat, half bent forward sculpting a snowball in his bare hands as I look on, in a black hat with rainbow colours tapering at the end and a pink coat waiting to be given this gift only to throw it at him or at anything. Snowball of power!
I smile at the thought, and feel I'm 5 again, and any minute I'm going to go outside in my pink coat and hat and build a snowman and eat snow mixed with orange juice like we used to.
I sit up, still paralyzed by fatigue, and take a few deep breaths, and all of a sudden, a surge of energy runs through me, like the kind that possesses children when they wake up at an unholy hour on christmas morning and run down concentrating on the new bike they wanted or the gameboy or the My Little Pony they asked Father Christmas for.
i kick the duvet and stand up in my baggy pj bottoms that house many baaing sheep, and my black tank top and lean on the window, my breathe spreading moist mist across the glass.
I'm in automatic smile mode by now, and slowly words appear on the window. "I'm still here" form in finger thick strokes on the window.. and for a minute I stand back, quite disillusioned.. until I remember it must be something I'd written in a blank moment of rambling, probably during a session with Tom Waits and a bottle of wine (typical). I open the window and the cold air seeps into the room swiftly, and caresses my face with a sting.
I put my hand out, letting the snowflakes fall onto my bare arm, and I watch them slowly disappear, melt onto my skin. The melt is so seamless and uninterrupted that it looks more like the fragile lace of ice is merely continuing its descent through my arm, and not perishing in the warmth of my flesh.

The world seems to serene... nothing is moving but the descent of snowflakes, a veil of specks gracefully dancing in the wind... Rain seems so vulgar now. Harsh and heavy and just wet. Snowflakes on the other hand, well, snowflakes have a whole character of their own. The mature elegant feminine relative of rain. Ballerinas versus big fat construction workers. Yeah.
I turn on my laptop and play Rachmaninoff. Just because it felt like the only right thing to do...

I decide to poke my head out, and I completely forget that I'm practically naked in the cold, and I stick my tongue out and close my eyes (for future reference... snowflakes in your eye are not pleasant). The small stings flirt with my senses, and I'm oblivious to any sort of reality other than the skin on my face, and the surface of my tongue. I don't think twice of how silly I must look, a girl with bed head hair, in a black tank top, leaning out of a window tongue out smiling and giggling softly like a child, maybe madwoman.

Julie Andrews didn't lie. Snowflakes on lashes can easily be someone's favourite thing. Who would've thought that something so small and light can be felt as it lands on the tip of your eyelash. How extraordinary..

I sat in my snow globe, shaken by some big friendly giant, with music and nothing else as accompaniment. And I was happy. And serene; like a snowflake, while the giant looked in at me, a tiny girl leaning through an open window, from a house on an empty street, with nothing but a smile and happy thoughts going through her head...

These are a few of my favourite things...

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Mad Girl's Love Song

"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)" -Sylvia Plath

I really do.. I always make them up inside my head..
and as I sit her and take another drag out of my limp crumpled cigarette, I think how much of a fool I am... and yet if I decide to get rid of this foolishness, it becomes pure compromise..

I am succumbing to the thought that there will never be someone perfect for me, that this ideal guy is purely in my head, and the search is futile, fruitless, pathetic.

What a thought.. that anybody that seems to be what my heart yearns for, is either in the wrong place at the wrong time, or in a relationship.. or just non existant..
I may sound like a broken record, or a whiny girl whose being picky and uber annoying.. but I've passed that now. Now it a matter of examination..

I had a conversation with a friend about the human condition the other day.. he had finally fallen in love, after many years of not knowing exactly what it was, and many messed up relationships that in my eyes he got into to find himself and find his place in this big role of ours, the "couple" and see what it was like in this part of the woods..

but now... now it was different. He had finally found someone that enriched him, and comforted him, and spoke to his heart. And then had to be separated by circumstance..
and it was over. just like that. A large green battlefiled, with the rational army charging forward from the west, armed with reality, time, practicality, space, location, and economics. While the emotional army stood in the east, small in number, armorless except for flesh shields of hearts, ready to bleed. Standing straight, and willing to bleed. And it comes.. like a wave.. crashes against this hopeless and helpless infantry.. and as they are plowed to the ground, the blood from the shields seeps slowly into the ground and the eyes shed tears, souls not uttering a sound, taking it because they cannot take anymore..

I learn from my life.. from my mistakes.. my experiences..and I've have quite a bit of experiences that deal a heavy lesson. And yet this is one thing I never seem to learn. I fall, fall hard, and break (usually at the impact of being dumped) and I realise, hey, expectations, come down a bit please. You're way too high. And they look at me from above, shrug, and do... until I am once again visited by the promise of someone who speaks to my heart like they've been friends forever. And my expectations jump, and I see someone I can become soup for, and instead of soaking me in,and wringing me out, turn to soup for me too... and we mix and mingle till we are just a load of soup, and that would'nt matter since at least we're soup together. Just a load of soup.

I've lost it I guess. In soup. Perhaps I can't put into words what it is, the only image i get is soup. damn soup.

The Human condition is a reality... this need to find someone who fits. Like a puzzle. (and that ladies and gentlemen was the prize winner for todays episode of "Cliche Please!" stay tuned, next comes "Puke-a-rama"!)

But its true. We look for that one. The one that is translated into the many, that is dispersed so brutally among a number of ones, than a one in itself. What a crock of shit.
Human condition? No my friends.. Human Curse. This search for love.. for warmth and comfort. Its a messy place to be.. And yet, time and time again, like waves we go in for it.. we reach onto the beach and try to drag all the pearl-bearing shells we can before we go thin out and weaken. And lose them.
All because of place, time, reality..
They say good things come to those who wait. Well if one is waiting somewhere Good Things can't find them.. how does that work?

I dont know. Its 3 am, and I'm thinking of the overflowing love that spills from my insides, and where it goes.. and what a waste. So I bid you goodnight after a rambling set in uselessness, a futile attempt to explain the inexplicable, to point to the stars behind the clouds and say "there! those are the ones! those are the ones I'm reaching for!".
I'm a mad girl, singing a love song to a phantom, stringing up my heart, hanging it from a tree as bait, and waiting for the right raven to come peck at it, ease my pain, and consume me all at once. I don't want to compromise.. If I compromise this, then everything is compromisable. If I compromise this, than all I believe in is a lie, and thats a road I'd rather not walk down, because its dark and dreary and so cold...
Human curse... human curse.

And it seems I'll keep making you up in my head my dear. It's a vicious circle till we meet..

But please..Don't slip on the soup..