It’s 9:15 am, I’m already late. Even though I was clearly told many times that I don’t really need to arrive in a particularly early time. No one is monitoring, but I still hurry and run past the people I see on the street.
I’m late, once again, I tell myself annoyingly. I woke up an hour earlier just to NOT be late and here I am scolding my own time-unaware existence, running through the streets of nearby Paris with an umbrella in my hand and croissant in the other. I check if my work badge is well around my neck and waltz my way on the crosswalk prudently, it’s red but we all cross anyway; prudently.
I see everyone in a similar attire with little to no difference in style or color walking at my pace. For the first time in my life I’m actually not behind, I am fast-walking, riding this wave of focused humanity flooding its way into buildings much like ships tracing lighthouses.
This stream of people crashes into the long structures, ready to ignite them, ready for labour. As we outpour onto the streets and up staircases I stop and take the escalators, I move to the right because silly you if you stand to the left the waves will literally crash into you and you’ll be lost at sea, so I hang on to the armrest belt beside me, making sure I stayed afloat. I took the escalator to take a moment to breathe and to look around me and feel how crisp and cold the morning air was even though I was mid-journey to land.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If people were to be asked what they thought, clear of judgment from other human beings, what would they say?
If they were asked to say it to a crowd of full of empty chairs. Would they be afraid of the walls’ judgment? Will the ghost of judgment haunt them? Or will they let their subconscious run free?
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.