From Beirut, the picture looks grim. Syria, Palestine, Iraq—all angry reds and blistering oranges. Here, we have the sea . . . the sea. Blues to drown ourselves in, greens and yellows to traffic us to another same day.
The ground swells, my fingers sweat. The center will hold, must hold. No sudden movements, no jagged breaths—enjoy the slack tightness of this rope. Anxiety, anticipation—it is coming—a tomorrow that will bring us closer to everything we already know. This sea is a border. She pens us in, pent up panting. She glimmers in the sun, whispers a secret breeze at night. She is fat with our salty memories. We float on her promises, sink in her heaviness. On Saturday she pulled me in to her, tight and cold and daring and arching, postcards from the past best left to sleep. On Saturday I was afraid.
But then Sunday came. A barbecue, a card game, some news, some smokes. A family argument, some cold seedy watermelon. Our natour`s brother is aliveordead in a Syrian jail. A friend’s family members arenowrefugees in Lebanon from Mosul. A friend`s cousin is kidnappedinAleppo. There is a war in Lebanon, but it doesn’t look like it used to and so maybeitdoesn’tcount. Men in suits on television take questions with poise and serious faces and wagging fingers alongside a split screen from Gaza filled with broken bodies and buildings mixed in their decomposition. I can smell them, here from my couch.
A few angry statements, some furiously typed emails and text messages— this piece of writing— some pluming—I wear them like a shroud over my guilty safe slick surface.
At least here, there are no concerned eyes. No dilated pupils asking you for details, no compassionate nod or hand holding or parted lips interested in saving us all with good intentions and some street protests. At least here, we know why we drink, smoke, talk, play. We know why we forget, and how to forget. We know that the world is not ours for the taking, and that our corpses will not produce headlines. We know how to live. We close our eyes to what is happening only miles away, we close our eyes to this past that is always already here. Our hard skins are willed over scar tissue and are difficult to flay.
I know you have your pen out and that you want to make it all better. I know this whets your appetite. And your appetite consumes me
Monday—the news does not stop. The phone calls do not stop. The emails do not stop. The far away so close-ness does not stop. Car bombs, motherbrothersisterfather, attacks, arrests, kidnappings, barrel bombs— they are getting closer to me and to the plane that I will board to escape this landscape painted with too many primary colors and not enough hues. I long to forget. I long for apathy, but not of the willed kind. I long for a different history.
I want to have to search for news, to be someone who cares about precarity intellectually and who caresabouttheworld. I long to be special that way.
I will wear this dewy eyed caring like a shroud over my guilty safe slick surface.
From Beirut, the view is grim. Syria, Palestine, Iraq, the north of this country, the south of this country—all angry reds and blistering oranges. The sky that brings us together is still holding onto the promise of continued contrapuntal war, a luxury we are grateful for.
Here, we are trespassers into yesterday and tomorrow. You are a pilferer, a profiteer, of pleasure; I am a smuggler of smiles. Here the ground shakes and spits at us. Here we are all teeth bared to the heat and to its duplicitous promises. Here we are in the afternoon sun, alone together.
Here, we move through the interfaces of salt, sea and skin. Here, we read across archives and borders, where history is tactile and where braille is the dream of a common language. Here we wait to be reunited with all of our lovers.
Here, if we had the time, we would be haunted.
All that glitters is not gold, but who cares? Right now, in the sun, the sea—the oily blue edge of this pen that holds us in—is beautiful.