Stories from Paris: unpredictable June

I lay my body on a little round table

Both arms laid out accross it

My head resting on my forearm

the sun covering me very gently

covered whole

covered inside out.

warming the back of my neck and my fingers, the wind blowing sweet, quiet little secrets I vowed to keep.

June in Paris is unpredictable, but I guess that’s why moments like this exist.

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Stories from Paris: Ping Pong, then and now.

My father liked playing ping pong so much that he bought us a ping pong table when we were younger. So when I was around 15 we had set up the table in a small backyard that used to attract visitors, even though the visits were rare, but many of them did happen around our ping pong table, whenever we had guests over.

I remembered literally screaming and sometimes banging the racket on the edge of the table because my brother was learning faster than I was, and he was a sour winner so he would very often rub it in my face. Like all the time.

My dad would teach us the ‘mechanics’ of it, the same way he learned it from his teacher, and how we should go about playing, and what to do in some situations when the ball hits a particular part of the table, and how to smash and the fact that we should’t smash all the time in order to keep the game alive. He explained this, as he held the plastic ball firmly, his racket in his right hand, arm repeating the motion that I should be mirroring; “that way”

“see”, “it’s like waving at the table” and he swayed his arm again in a slightly circular motion. “This is how you win” he used to say in elation, as the adrenaline clearly pumped.

That was 7 years ago, he explained to me how to win, but the number of losses in those matches were significantly higher than the wins.

I was coming home from work at around 7:30pm when I noticed that the neighborhood family-friendly park was open. Through the metal bars I saw a man motioning the wave with his right arm. He looked at his opponent and mumbled words I was not close enough to hear. He looked serious about what he was talking about, but something about the way he was explaining it was very calm and understanding.

I couldn’t help but walk over to see the game, and sure enough, the game was not to be missed.

The Japanese man I saw through the bars, wears a red polo with white horizontal stripes, beige pants that seemed one size bigger than his, and beige sandals. His hair as grey as the sky that day, he had his bags and belongings on a side bench next to mine.

His opponent, a 10 year old French boy with big red bruises on his knees, evidence of his enjoyment of other sports I assume. He looked different than the other kids in the playground. Most of them were very aggressive and loud. There were 5 boys that were a little shorter than he was, playing football right behind him, and the ball sometimes flew over his head and through the gaps between his legs, that were usually spread apart, and passed under the ping pong table, but he stayed quiet, concentrated.

He smashes and then misses the second time, as the ball seemed to hit the floor far more times than it did the table.

“No” The Japanese man says. He tries to mumble why, in very broken French, and the boy could understand about 12% of what the man was trying to say. The boy looked at me in a confused but amused state, I giggled back and he understood that I understood his misunderstanding of the explanations, but the man was so persistent to explain the mechanics of the game that he used other means to get his point across. Soon enough his whole body was used as a tool to explain the How To’s and and Do’s and Dont’s of the game.

He took the ball in his left hand and held it in front of him, for the boy to see. “C’est comme ça, un, deux, trois”. He said.

The boy understood, took the instructions and applied them in his next serve. The more the man explained the game, the easier it got for the boy to understand, the better his game got. The boy sent many balls to the bushes and trees nearby, and sometimes the man did too, but the boy would always be the one getting the ball. At one point the man’s open bag drops to the floor, and the boy immediately goes to catch it, and put everything back in its place. There was a lot of respect given to the man by the boy, who now saw him as a teacher. The man clearly appreciated the care the boy showed towards him, and tries to teach him to win. The more times the boy won the match, the happier the man was.

I was not able to see the end of the game but they were clearly both enjoying themselves.

“How many times have you played against him?” I asked the boy.

“This is my sixth time” he said, his cheeks red from the backs and forths behind the ball. The man smashes and the ball hits the edge of the table and flies off, making the boy lose one more point.

“and it won’t be the last” he grins.

 

Kinetic sand

She held it in her hands like kinetic sand, watching it drip through the gaps between her fingers to the white floor she sat on, between her legs.

She tried to shape it into things that made sense. It seemed like it took form into something different only for a few minutes until it crumbled back into pitch-black kinetic sand, moving in random motion.

Its particles covering parts of her body until she could no longer see what was underneath. She covered her arms and smeared it under her eyes and on her cheekbones,

pitch-black sand grains on her hands and feet, going up the length of her arms and her legs.

she found a little space in the room which was not cluttered and sat on the ground, legs nearly crossed and hands moving the sand from one to another, playing with its texture as her eyes followed the sway and head shadowed left to right,

she sat there thinking whether her sadness will ever amount to something,

can she create any form of structure in her life based on what was between her hands?

it always fell to the floor and broke the illusion every time.

How do you build a fortress when all you’ve been capable of holding are grains?

What feels good

Sometimes things feel good

Like reading the little sign that says Project Submitted

like hitting the 15k mark on an essay

like correctly Harvard referencing the last reference

Like saving your Word file as a PDF

Like finally feeling your mind clear up from the clutter of excel and referencing and p-values

like stepping into the shower with boiling hot water after you recieved your confirmation email

like hot water filling the whole bathroom with little heavy white clouds

like sitting in your warm bathrobe completely naked for a while

like submitting your final project the night when you conveniently do not have work tomorrow, because people decided to celebrate Labor day by not doing labor.

Happy early labor day to those who like moments when they are quiet.

I know 36+ other students who just took a really deep breath of relief. Hope you guys are doing well!

 

 

 

Read me if you need to understand what matters

How Many people live in the world today

– 7.442 Billion (2016)

How Many people live in Paris, today

– 2,241 million

How many people are staring back at me, right now

Sometimes your only company is your mirror. It’s your eyes looking back at you. Looking back at the mirror. Looking back at everything that has happened right up to this point

This face to face

This me to me.

From connecting, to connections: an autobiography about my perception of my surroundings thus far. 

When you are in kindergarten, you connect in playgrounds. From when we are only a few months old, we are put into classes with a few other few year olds, and are encouraged to play, to share, and to discover one another. To connect in the harmless and innocent way few year olds do.

and then you’re in high school, and you connect in classes. You are put into classrooms where you are encouraged and expected to connect with people who are also around your age, going through what you are going through, turning in the same papers you have to turn in, sometimes earlier than you, sometimes a little later. Most 5-6-7teen year olds want to connect during those times. Some 5-6-7teen year olds are desperate to connect at those times.

and then you get to university and you start connecting in levels. You either connect on that I-want-you-to-meet-my-parents level, or that let’s-take-a-vacation-together level. You also connect at this-is-my-first-coffee-with-you-but-let’s-never-do-this-again level.

That let’s-hangout-sometime-level, that I-see-you-in-the-halls-but-I-don’t-even-know-your-major-and-I-never-had-the-time-to-try-to level. That-he-looks-cute-but-I-think-he’s-way-younger-than-me level.

That sister level. That stranger level,

That I-only-met-you-that-one-time-at-a-local-bar-but-we-really-hit-it-off-and-I-never-saw-you-again-level. That I-wished-I-met-you-sooner-level. That I-wish-we-never-met level. That I-will-probably-invite-you-to-my-wedding-someday level,

and many other levels leading you to suddenly leave your university with half a heart and most importantly, half a conversation. Half a laugh because of all the time you thought you had but here you are on a plane back home. You left so many conversations on hold back then that you were sure you were going to continue. There were many more nights to be shared, and many more sways I would’ve liked to have.

To anyone feeling like they left in the middle of the conversation, just letting you know that I did too. I think more than a few did, even if they don’t admit it openly in a blog post. On the upside, you can still hear them when you go back. but how can you understand anything with only half of the conversation?

Here I am looking at my only companion today, my sweet one in 2 million (could be romantic, could be very, very sad); completely flabbergasted at how apparently participating in the “adult-lead” world means that connecting slowly turns into connections, where people don’t advise you to “be friendly” in classrooms anymore. You just, exist. You’ve been launched into the world, and apparently “connections” are pretty much 87% of the people you know, and you just collect little meaningless connections like tokens you can add on your Linkedin profile to prove to the face of the earth that I know people. I connected. I’ve been connecting my whole life and we’ve connected so hard that they endorsed me.

I really hope that once you get to that stage of your life when you are in constant contact with adults, and have contracts to sign and have to worry about something called “time management” and “house tax” and “passing out at 10:30 because your mind says 22 but your body says nah fam a little over 45”; I really hope you’d’ve connected by then. Because (besides personal achievement and goals and inner peace), it is the only thing that will matter, and that will ever feel real. Genuine care, love, warmth, passion, desire, pride and the pure joy of seeing someone else succeed because you love them so much it physically hurts you, that is the only thing that will ever feel real.

Everything.

Else.

Goes.

Including (but not exclusive to) your money, your apartment, your car, your money, your job, your vacation, your money, it all goes, don’t worry, if you decide to save it not spend a dime, your government eventually will! lol JK pls don’t kick me out. 

Anyway your money goes!

what was the point of this again? 

Oh, right!

It’s just funny how the only real thing you’ll ever experience has colors and shapes you’ve never seen before. Life has a real funny way of showing you what doesn’t matter right in front of your face and on your radio and in your car and on your screen, and leaving everything that actually does, to your precious imagination.

I only hope my memory lasts long enough for me to remember you after you’ve gone. I hope you will remember me, too.

 

my wish to you

Of all the ages we go through, and the candles we blow, in all the people we meet and the habits we outgrow, the deepest and most pointless discussions we have, the post-its we stick on people’s screens and on their mirrors, our expressions of love and confusion and irritation of people and circumstances; in all the differences in smells and complicated ways of connecting the dots in our heads, in my way of viewing things versus yours, andwithyours, and with every breath forced out of me, one thing unites all our dissociations, and that’s the way we end our stories. We all unite under life’s factual circumstances.

As Viola Davis said, straightforward, as she shrugged, holding onto a golden globe with  her two hands, almost as if her entire body was supporting this statue, tear-ridden and obviously immersed in emotion, she chooses to break the silence of the wait, after the sea of applaud had quieted down for being nominated for best supporting actress, the noise slowly fades out. Gazing from one person to another, I imagined her looking at the immense amount of individuals as they all looked back at her, singled out from the crowd. She tried to look to everyone in front of her, and in a quivering voice she exclaimed,  “There is one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered, and that’s the graveyard“.

As soon as she did, there was no noise in the audience, as they all knew and agreed without having to agree. There was no noise from me behind my laptop, taking a break from my gigantic management project which I have due in less than 10 days, which I should probably be getting back to now. But no matter the time of day or project deadlines, one thing remains unchanged, and that is our surprisingly easy temporariness.

Today is warm enough to open windows in Paris, and sunny enough not to light any bulbs. The window, letting my curtains and the wind play little games , also let through a a familiar tone. Someone was playing Wake me up on the loudest volume, the whole road could hear it, my walls heard it too, and it swept through the branches near my room, and fell to the ground with its leaves.

We are all so extraordinarily temporary, and life itself is exciting in all its new adventured and surprises and dull mundanity, right until its very end, whether that is in 20 years or 53.

We often oscillate between the labyrinth of suffering through distracting ourselves from the pain of failed plans and circumstances and failed expectations and failed love and self love, and feeling every emotion to be felt with absolute admiration and wonder. 

I hope that when I leave this earth I will have kept my friends and loved ones close, and met people who left their fingerprints all over my thoughts and left my hands dirty with sweet sweet soil, and that I’d had more days of laughter than heartache, and felt more of love than pain. But it is a blessing both ways, to have simply felt.

The lovely three

I can’t help feeling like I took you for granted, thinking far away is the best answer, and that I need leave for better opportunities.
For my seeking of open doors, I closed yours behind me
I miss you I miss you I miss you
Of all the love I can mention, yours is a different kind
Does homesickness ever get better?
I am lucky I have you in people and clouds and perfect perfect weather and youth and wrinkles. Lucky to have all this love, and lucky to come from a place where people genuinely want to enjoy life, lucky that in Lebanon, friends are family and family is old age and little cousins and coffee smells and good home cooked dinners.
After ten years abroad, I came back to Lebanon for 3 years, and they were the longest three, but going back freed me. My dear Lebanon I hope you forgive me for closing your door for so long. I didn’t know that when I left, we would be saying goodbye for a very long time, and that we wouldn’t be the only ones to do so. We were one of the many many families who chose to leave. As the houses emptied out in the years that passed by, and more than half of lebanese children and grandchildren still leave to build their own paths and families abroad, we become so accustomed to forward that we sometimes forget to look back at what we leave behind.
When I came back for the lovely three, I realized that people were still living their every-days with half of their hearts abroad. Getting headaches and preparing for ceremonies and watching TV series and having skype sessions with their families, half here half there.
I’m tired of leaving you,
Looking forward to seeing you again,