All posts by smellslikestrawberries

On music Part 2- The music in people

I’ve listened to music my entire life.

So have most of us, the difference is whether we were aware of it. When some of us listened to songs, others listened to people, and that was kind of the same thing, depending on how enchanting the people around you were.
There is music in the people surrounding us, and I’ve met people that echo beautiful tunes. They are both the lyrics and the chords; some of them are single voices, and others a full orchestra. Some lead with a well formed quartet while others miss a maestro, and let the instruments play on their own, with no order in particular.
Some gravitate towards the slow and emotional, while others drum beat in fast motion. And there are some that change maestros and genres with time and circumstances.
Some are scared to play their music hoping they won’t wake the upstairs neighbors, while others play it non stop and wake up the entire street.
What’s great is when you find a saxophone player when you’ve been missing one in your orchestra, and just by chance they seem to have been looking for a tenor, and discover that you ended up making some of the most beautiful pieces you’ve ever heard. And then when you get so used to the tune, they disappear and take with them all their instruments, and you realize they’ve taken a bit of your voice with them, too.

On music Part. 1- The bravery in song

 

I’ve listened to music my entire life.

Basically it started when I was two, I would sit for hours in front of the TV watching (and never fully understanding) music videos of Amro Diab (an Egyptian singer, for those who aren’t familiar), and I would sing his tune again and again, until I spoke words I couldn’t spell at the time, but my little two year old self adored doing this, and it made my family happy when they heard me, encouraging me to go on, as they normally would.
What has surprised me the most is that songs tend to change meaning as you get older. There are some that stay stuck in a time when you were a dorky little teenager that had a crush on someone she hardly spoke to, to when you become and angsty little 20 something year old, still facing things that make your palms sweat.
I’ve discovered a completely new playlist, one I haven’t changed in years, suddenly describing the way things are playing in my mind. I’ve always thought that I did fully understand a song I’ve played over a hundred times on my Ipod, but you never fully do until you are immersed in that particular emotion, in that particular mindset. Suddenly the chords, lyrics-less make sense, the beats wordless form a perfect pattern. I become the chord and you pick my every tune.
Suddenly I’m scared to press play, I’m scared to listen to something I’ve been hearing for years.
What an art it is, to be able to sing heartache, and how courageous it is to face it instead of hiding it in the back of your mind. To let it swim around you and cover your body with an unsettling but usual feeling. How brave it is to be vulnerable and let go of what pains your mind; to mourn loss through music, through notes that heal you, and also be able to express and hear happiness, celebration and escape through loud voices! Loss and gain all at once, ecstasy and demise, all together in a playlist on an Ipod I’ve had for what seems like decades.
All the emotions of life pass through our headphones sometimes without us realizing it, but when we do, the hit sure is pure.

 

Healing

I write this on a little screen that fits between my hands and finish all my sentences using my thumbs, as my trusted laptop has unfortunately bailed on me for the last time. I don’t blame the poor thing, it did send me signals that it was nearly at the end of its tiring journey.

Nonetheless, my laydown in bed was recently interrupted by my mother who has decided to use the water hose to clean the balcony (we are on the groundfloor therefore the ‘balcony’ is a big and integral part of our home). So I agree to help her, knowing water will soon cover the bottom half of my clothes, although that didn’t seem like a bad idea in 45degree-Dubai.

Running the water over everything outside gave me a sense of change; how so? You ask. WellLemmeTellYou

As I slightly covered the open end of the hose with my index finger to harden the stream, I watched as the liquid fall on the particles of sand on the floor, now all stuck together like members of the same family, all being detached and cleared out by the stream.

We hosed down chairs that regained their original brighter colors, and big stands with plastic flower pots on them that looked close to grey, and the thing is you don’t even see their fade until you wash it away, you start noticing the difference, I made them regain their life just by washing away what was on the surface.

I wished then for my worries to be washed away in that same matter, for the colors to show and life to be inhailed deeply. I wished for nothing more than to heal from whatever dust that has held tight to my skin, knowing well that the stream will come from within, and boy will I be ready for the shower.

Eid, for all the people who weren’t there

Sometimes I wish I could record some memories in my head in a way that lets me relive them in absolute totality; including the sounds and touches, and definitely the smells.

How wonderful would it feel to be able to relive a loved one’s touch after you’ve parted.

Today we finished a long and very loud and crowded lunch with parts of my family I’ve been familiar with for years, and others I’ve met again as grown ups. As the day came to an end I stood outside, still hopeful that more members of the family will walk past and decide to pay us a visit; and then I see my grandmother’s neighbor, whom I used to know when I was knee-high; with a child around his arm and the other in his brother’s arms, both content they smile up at me looking down at them from the balcony. It’s absolutely crazy because I remember them being very young, but always older than I was, and now they have little ones of their own who will see me waving from the balcony but will never really remember me from that point on. But their sight just warmed my heart; the whole evening did.

If you’ve never been to Lebanon in Eid time, let me tell you what you can expect.

A lot of food.

yeah.

Food.

But mainly, conversation between every bite, and very raw laughter. Between every spoonful, heartfelt concern, and newer conversation with details and wishes and mutual understandings. Click clacks of forks and knives and political opinions spread on a plate of overfilled rice, and between every grain is something I couldn’t find anywhere I went. My grandmother’s place turns into a hub of voices; from warm and concerned ones to tired or excited ones. Voices I’ve heard around me ever since I could start telling them apart, and voices I’ve recently met. When it’s not voices it’s footsteps, cautious and slow from the people I hold dear to my heart, to rapid and jumpy from little ones that can’t seem to get ahold of themselves. and when it’s not footsteps it’s chews, loud, and unrefined laughter, absolutely unfiltered.  And it’s at that moment that I wish I could press record, when I’m just focused on this moment right now, not worried about anything else to come later, that moment when life could be summed up into one evening in a house so very used to people, you hear their echo years after they’ve gone.

 

It was only at 11pm tonight, as I was brushing my teeth and simultaneously singing at the top of my lungs in the bathroom with Ariana Grande live in Manchester on my phone, fist bumping to the air, that I realized how amazing unity through music makes us feel.

Her there, and I here; she’ll never know that this 21 year old was also in the crowd with her, in Dubai living their exact moment.

The F word

I usually write about little things that happen to me during the day, that mark me in a way or another.

Today, I want to write about fear.

The first thought to come to mind as the reason why I would write about this now is the fact that I have just watched V for Vendetta (yes, for the first time, I know it has been out for a long time, I had just never gotten the chance to watch it, although the DVD has been sitting there in my drawer for years.) and it ignited a little fire in me that doesn’t seem to want to go off. At 11pm Dubai time, here I am feeling the strong need to stand up. It’s crazy what movies do to us (and kind of great).

But then again, the subject of fear relates to an experience I had exactly one week ago from today.

Seven days ago I took a 7-and-a-half-hour flight from Lyon to Dubai, which I was generally used to. This was not my first flight, and definitely not my last; and during that flight the pilot called for all passengers and flight attendants to get back to their seats due to turbulence (that was also not my first turbulence call). I was sitting next to a couple going on their honeymoon to the Seychelles if I remember correctly, and they had a connecting flight in Dubai.

I usually don’t pray on a daily basis, but it just so happens that every time I have a flight to take, I say a prayer before we take off, just because it calms my nerves.

The plane started shaking, the shudders were usual and nothing I haven’t experienced before, and then it started escalating, and small vibrations quickly became small left-to-right swings, just writing about it now makes my stomach clench exactly the way it did on that plane. Quickly enough my body shivered more extensively than the plane itself, and I felt an unprecedented level of fear run through it, from the strands of my hair to my ankles, to my fingernails and the soles of my feet. I felt, legitimately, like I was dying; and there was nothing, and no one that could stop it.

My heart felt like it was going at a faster pace than the plane, I could not talk, see or breathe anymore, and what was driving me insane was the fact that I was not in control of the situation, and it kept stretching on for minutes.

Long story short, I’m in Dubai now, alive and on the ground and I was an absolute nightmare to the poor two sitting beside me as they had to switch seats and move upfront, as I got to talk to one of the flight attendants, once again, just to calm my nerves. She talked to me about everything and anything; about where I lived, what my plans are for the moment, who I will be seeing in Dubai, I was pretty sure she was instructed to do so, as a flight attendant approaching someone in panic. But there came a moment when she touched on the elephant in the room, and I was still surprised by how much what she said affected me. We talked about fear, as if I had never talked about it before. I realized that fear sometimes controlled my life and the things that I did, at times without me even being aware of it. I feared small and bigger things that had either minor or substantial impacts. I feared things such as taking two Panadol pills instead of one, and I feared confronting individuals in my life. I feared not remembering all the information I needed to remember before a very important exam, and I feared disappointing the people that loved me. I fear the outcomes of the things that I say and even more the things that I don’t. I fear letting people into my life and getting them out of it. I fear judgement and I do admit it; judgment from those who love me and from those who aren’t even involved in my life. I fear the loss of people I care about and that care about me, and sometimes I fear my own thoughts. I fear losing touch with some people and losing the feeling of their touch on my skin.

The point is this chronic fright has lead me to situations where I thought I was actually dying when I really wasn’t, that emotionally or physically. I was recently asked what it is exactly that I feared, to which I had no answer to, because it was everything and nothing all at once, and it was then that I realized that some really great moments in life lie just behind that gigantic black hole that is fear. That F word that I keep using senselessly, labelling it on the things that matter and the things that don’t.

I’ve been working on this part of myself for a bit of time now, but the more years pass by and the more complicated problems tend to seem, it is not about taking an extra Panadol pill or searching for symptoms of a momentary sickness on Google. Problems had layers that I had to peel and fear just seeps into them like bacteria you can’t really see.

So here it is, written somewhere on the internet and permanently on my laptop and in my head. I will try to do some things that scare me to my core, knowing that either way if it’s a good or a bad outcome, I will have to face it. This prison is like no other, you are already free, you just have to get up and walk straight out of fear to freedom, and I can only imagine how good it will taste and how my shoulders will feel after all the weight of years and words has been lifted off them.