The secrets you don’t know

“like the wind itself” she wrote

Sometimes I wish I were like the wind itself, turning and wrapping itself around you.

I traced her words on a blank sheet of paper that contained no lines.

I imagined her writing them down on this little book, writing then striking it through, then writing again.

I read the sentence once more. I wish I knew who she was talking about. (I later was told  that this letter was destined to my grandmother).

My mother has always written her thoughts in Arabic on paper she stores away in all of the homes we’ve moved into and out of. She writes in poems and metaphors although rarely speaks them out loud. On paper, she speaks of the wind and its ability to twirl around people with ease, and writes of images that make sound.

I imagine her thoughts carry the smell of jasmine from the plants my grandmother had grown around the house she’d grown up in, but my mother has been in places in her past that I have never seen, and met people I have never met, so maybe jasmine isn’t the only smell she thinks of when writing down letters. Sometimes she speaks something of her past and I realize that the person I had lived with for 18 years has lived a full life before me, which I know close to no details of.

Although my mother and I talk everyday, she’s filled drawers worth of memoirs in poems, prose and letters, so there’s clearly more she’d like to say, maybe not to me, and maybe not for anyone else to read.

I remember someone at work telling me that people are like forests, too crowded and complex to know fully. There’s no way to know a forest by heart; and it perplexed me, how we claim to know people yet have no visibility on 95% of their inner thoughts.

They tell you parts and the rest may be written on paper you will never read, it may not even be written at all. We juggle through life with secrets between our hands, trusting that our words will simply be enough for people to stop asking questions.

Do you ever wonder about what’s written down?

and what about what isn’t?

 

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I ate McDonalds today, please don’t shame me

So let’s talk about how eating healthy has become sort of a cult,

and how people who sometimes choose to eat an unhealthier choice are shamed and offered to the Gods of Healthy Carbs and Proteins as mere gifts.

No hate on healthy eating; maintaining a good relationship with food and having a balanced diet, exercising to keep your body fit and powerful is great, it’s good for you, we get it, it has a positive impact on your immune system and your mental health and it will save your life one day and bla bla blah. J’ai compris.

It is no new news to people who have been acquainted with me in the past, but to the people who are alien to this fact, I am judgy when it comes to food, and I discriminate based on flavor, texture and consistency. Although my culinary background may be slightly questionable, I couldn’t help but notice a lack of flavor in many dishes in France involving “Quinoa”, “Houmous”, Roasted chicken and vegetables that all end up tasting like the same meal with a different name. No matter how different the ingredients are, it always looks like a healthy mess sitting in a bowl. Nowadays you can’t say avocado without a millennial popping their head in to join the conversation. People get orgasms off Hummus and carrots here, as if all the flavor in the world has been captured in this healthy alternative of a snack. Mind you I am Lebanese, we love our Hummus, we made the biggest plate of Hummus man has ever created, people win awards for that, apparently, so I like it, but people here are going insane for it, they put it in salads as dressing, and sometimes add cumin to it to really give it that “Middle Eastern Vegetarian” vibe. Please, stop. Also stop putting quinoa and semoule in Tabbouleh for the love of God, when has parsley become not enough for the salad??

Back to the main topic, I can go on and on about my frustration with the food for hours, but let’s leave that mess for another post you can waste your time on.

One normal, BAU day in the office, I said I was going to eat McDonalds for lunch, not because I wanted something quick, or because I lacked the motivation to walk a longer distance to a carrot-friendly hub of meals the size of a 12 y/o’s palm, but because I wanted to.

“I’m going to get McDonalds, anyone want to come with?”

Gasps were heard throughout the department, people start ringing the bell of shame.

“McDonalds?! You want to put that in your body?” Screamed one of them

People couldn’t believe that some remote populations around the world still liked to go to McDonalds once in every blue moon, but I did, and I kept going.

I ate McDonalds last time and the feeling of guilt paraded around me like a mariachi band.

Today, I ordered the exact same thing I order every single time I go to McDonalds:

Small Hamburger, Medium fries with Sauce Pommes Frites on the side (it’s a french thing, don’t ask), and a small coke. I’ve never ordered anything else (besides my Happy meals, but I realized this reflected badly on my credibility as an “established, head screwed-on-firmly-on-her-shoulders type-of-adult” when I was questioned out loud about whether I wanted a girl toy or a boy toy). I was 21 at the time, and it was the last time I got a girl toy. Now I just realize that my order is basically an exact replica of the happy meal, without the toy, because toys are apparently looked down upon once you take that step into adulthood, where “being rational”, and “making sense” are common topics of interest.

Something about McDonalds triggered something in my memory on my way back home today, and it was the whole reason why I wanted to write this post in the first place, albeit the sentences did seem much shorter in my mind.

I got a takeaway order of my “adult-happy-meal-with-no-toy” and walked home, but I could not help but grab a fry, and then two, and then the whole thing really. I took one bite off my skinny burger and I swear something of a sensory nature awoke in my brain.

Suddenly I was seven, wore two tight pony tails on either side of my head, and white socks in sandals, the ones that had white laces at their tips.

“How is it” I though to myself,

“That my burger tastes exactly the same as it did when I was seven, in Lebanon”

It was too clear to me, the Saturday evening birthday parties, the smell of dried paint on my face, itching from the cracks the butterfly has made on my cheeks, because I’ve only ever wanted butterflies to be painted on my face.

I remembered the smell of the plastic toys I’d jumped over in the kids area, and hearing children my age scream as they ran after one another, their endless chatter eventually becoming white noise to me.

I remember going down a purple tube slide that always seemed too dark for me, so I always hesitated before sliding down through it. It always gave me little electric shocks when I slid down it, and my voice would always surprise me when I screamed inside, as the echo and purple surrounded me, it wrapped me into an infinite familiar.

Of all the things that have changed in my life, I am glad that McDonald never changed, because 5€50 is a bargain for a meal in which you can actually taste the past.

I’ve tasted simpler times, when life felt much smaller and could fit into the size of my palms. I sank my arm in my paper bag, grabbing one fry after the other, as if collecting memories and stuffing them into my mouth, keeping them inside and I though how ironic, that life seemed much less scary when I was 7.

 

 

Being alive, and how to explain it to aliens

Here I am again
Music keeping me company when no one else is around.
There’s heavy irony in being in a city overflowing with people going back to their empty homes every night.
Like crowds of lonely individuals, never really acting as one, as they are all different, separate entities; music keeping them company when no one else is around.
My wall carries over fifty pictures of my friends and family. Their memories stacked one on top of the other in cluttered order, and they are sometimes the loudest thing in my room.
Proof.
I thought
That life was never as dull as it currently is, and never really as lonely.
I’ve reflected too many times, I’ve lost count of the moments I’ve lost myself in my own thoughts trying to understand what it means and why we do the things we do, where we are going and why we are here.
I tend to fall to similar conclusions.
No matter how good the song hits
How great the work turned out
How perfect the scene was
It is only in connections that I feel simply and undoubtedly alive.

Sometimes I wonder how I can explain being alive to beings who are alien to the concept.
We all breathe, yes, but how do you explain the feeling of relief?
We laugh, too, but I’d have a hard time explaining what happiness is to you, oh alien being, potentially ignorant to the concept.

We are immensely complicated creatures, constantly facing the most basic of circumstances.
We are individuals who comprehend (and for the most part) accept our temporariness.
We are, as easily and (even more quickly) as we are no more.
We lead complicated lives in simple, mortal bodies. Skin, hair and nails covering bones, blood, water and most surprising of all, wonder.
And we watch as everything ages, withers and dies, and at some point we accept it.
Our knowledge and our ignorance; our complicated, milles-feuilles layered thought process, trying to understand the simplest of stories.
We are born with reason, and die with many unanswered questions,
Maybe that’s why nature has sound, and soil speaks? I wonder what it would say if it could only understand what it meant to feel alive.

No windows needed

They both board the train leaving at 6:52am
Colors barely there, outside the glass windows, the sun had not colored the village yet
But traces of green were still there.
Endless fields and trees that covered almost all of the surface under the train.
Almost, were the houses and red bricked roofs and many many windows
All of this, seen through the windows on the train they boarded today
But somehow they’ve only managed to look at each other. There did not seem to be any reason for them to look anywhere else.
Besides, he was her green, earthy nature.
And she was him home, red bricked roof and long glass windows.
And what a comfort it was, to not need any windows to see the view.

What it means to stand

and as I passed her, walking

and he passed me, running

and another passed him, flying

I knew this city of love wouldn’t see love if it hit it right in the face, it would be too busy hurrying to the next bus.

But here you are, in front of me, and for a second, it was almost as if we were the only two people in the world who were just standing.

 

Read me if you want to know the truth

For as long as I could remember, two things have always been clear to me:

I hated cold weather, and I cherished (a little more than recommended at a young age) the time I had to myself.
Flash forward to my present; I am currently living in a city where gray is pretty much a state of mind, and I still have a lot of time myself (a little too much for my liking).

When I was around 17 years old, I knew that I would be better than fine, off by myself somewhere not too far from home, but not closer than a 5 hour long flight.
For a long period of time, I saw happiness as a future where I go to work every day and come back to a comfy, aesthetically-pleasing, big beige rug wearing, vanilla-candle-smelling appartment, with windows that stretched from the ceiling to the floor, that had curtains that were so thin they were practically invisible, because the sun should come in, it’s rude to expect it to knock first.
The windows would look out to the city, because I have always been a semi-city girl; albeit I meant a SUNNY city, not 50 shades very, very dark grays and blues. I’m not a Starbucks cup hoarder kind of city girl, but I like things messy and busy, and I like the center of things, and feeling like “this” is where things are happening, and that my story fits somewhere in between.
I really did believe it down to my core, it was what happiness felt like.
And I’ve accumulated this truth and sworn by it for years, but the thing about this reality is that the truth will change, and you’ll either feel it changing gradually, or you’ll have an epiphany at midnight a year later. A little bit of both happened to me, so here I write, with every intention of sharing my truth, for now.
It was only in the absence of love, that I finally knew that I was never truly happy before feeling it.
This is non-intentionally depressing, excusez-moi.
But it is in the absence of you, my love, that I feel the difference,
of everything that was ever mammoth
Now a little smaller than a pebble I can hold in my hand
That I can throw far into the water
with the assurance that it would sink down to the bottom of the ocean along with the rest of the rocks thrown by everyone that has ever been thrown off guard by a love so new, and so pure that it swept them right off their feet.

It clicked, when I heard rainfall hit the pavements near my building,

the drops making little noises caressing my window.

And I knew I never liked gray skies, and rainfall even less

but I met you in my first winter, and somehow your smell got mixed in with the rain and now I can’t tell the difference.

And now the cold felt familiar, because I knew that when everything became cold for the first time, everything else in my life was warm.

I’ve loved, and I’ve felt, and that is my truth,

so you’ll find me in winter,

waiting for the wind to lead me back to you.

Talking to the moon

If you’ve ever been on a plane you know,

there’s a moment after the plane rises up for takeoff loudly, when it reaches what resembles “silence” that will accompany you throughout the flight, sort of like white noise that is still quite loud, but that your mind adjusts to as “plane noise”. Eventually becoming the standard “silence above clouds”, and endless ‘humm’ that only stops after the engine turns off.

I look out the little oval window on my left and the moon looks right back at me, our only companion besides said ‘humm’, floating near my window, as if to light the pages well enough for me to read my book, as if to read the book with me. As if to give me a sense of safety, a few kilometers off ground and sea, but safety in a glow soft enough for me to comfortably read and pretend like I am not at cloud-level right now.

It is almost as if the moon shows me that I can trust it.

Can I talk to you? And if I could, would you listen?

Have many people spoken to you before?

You are safe to talk to. Of all the things that have changed in my life, you remain the same. I remember looking at you years ago in a different place. You looked the same way you look now, as if you haven’t aged a day.

My loved ones are far but at least I know they can talk to you too, because you are there, just as you are here.

Can you send them love from me? and tell them that I miss them.

Tell them that even when we are miles apart, at least we have you to share.