A Letter to Beirut

Dear Beirut,

Writing this letter is no easy task, believe me.
I came to you all arrogant and sure of myself, thinking you will fulfill the idea I had forged of you: I had romanticized you to death, my head full of frangipani trees in full bloom, a festival of life and colors, the hope and sheer force of life of your inhabitants conquering all.

You seemed in a huff to have been reduced to this post card. It’s like you couldn’t wait to show me your darker face.

At first, I let you rock me softly to the rhythm of your summer vibe. It was nice. It felt familiar, I was used to you this way.

You were only gearing up your weapons.

We became more acquainted. Like in all relationships, came a time where I started noticing your flaws. The process was painful, you see, I so wanted you to be perfect. I soon realized I had to refrain myself from giving the finger three times a day to your unconscious drivers, your chaos unnerved me, it was no longer happy and somehow functional. You became unpredictable and moody, or maybe that’s how you’ve always been but my loving heart had chosen to ignore it for so long. Distance has this kind of power.
The lights on you were dimmed by the injustice,by the shocking inequalities. I was, and still am, upset by you, by how you let yourself be looted and disfigured and weakened by people, your own sons and daughters, who regularly chose money, greed and profit against you. I thought you had more strength. I thought you had more integrity.

I was very upset indeed, I didn’t want you to disappoint me.

You shrugged. You seemed to scold me for being such a fool, for thinking you had nothing better to do than fulfill gratuitously my expectations. It was like you screaming at me to get a move on: if I didn’t like what I saw, I was welcome to try and change it.

So I pulled up my sleeves.

And started believing in you again. I believed in you when I heard Nadine speak, I believed in you when I shared a cigarette with Farah on Martyr’s Square while our hearts were tighten with anxiety for you. I believed in you while working with Tamara and Sara, I believed in you through Abir’s pictures. I believed in you when I walked through your streets, asking for the martyrs of your wars not to have died in vain, while rice was being showered over us. I believed in you when over a thousand of us screamed against violence against women, I believed in you whenever I noticed an act of kindness, whenever the old woman in my office building calls out to me a warm “tfaddaleh” just because i am passing in front of her flat.

I see your flaws clearly now. They regularly make my blood boil. They make me want to scream. They’re there, and Beirut, my love, I don’t like them.

But I choose to believe. I have no other choice, you’re under my skin and it looks like you’re staying there.

It seems you and I are in a more honest place right now. I see you for what you are. You seem to be content of it, you seem satisfied.

I know, because now that I’m leaving you again, you set all the frangipani trees in full bloom.

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