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Friday, November 15, 2013

So Long, Farewell

So, this is my last Live From Lebanon... After 18 years of a journey full of ups and downs, I moved back to the United States. It was a tough decision, but one that has been in the pipelines for a while. Right now, I'm sitting in the closet of my nephew, which my sister converted into his homework station (I have usurped the poor kid's room until I get settled), and reminiscing about my last big move, the one that took me to Lebanon. It was a happy time back then, even though Beirut hadn't been even close to being rebuilt. But there was hope and optimism, and I was glad to be a part of it.

I lived with my grandmother and had a medium sized bedroom that my parents refurbished for me, because the old furniture had been there since the '50s. I put up two posters: one of Brad Pitt in 'Legends of the Fall' and one of 'Forrest Gump'. I had a little TV set with a VCR attached, a dressing table and an electric blue office chair that I never used and still don't know why I bought. My grandmother still has it and the posters are still up. I was studying at the American University of Beirut and typed all my papers on a laptop my dad gave me while sitting on my bed. I never folded my clothes and just threw them on the second bed, and my grandmother gave me a lecture about how I needed to be tidier so that I'd be a good homemaker when I got married. I still hate folding my clothes, but I'm not married so I guess it doesn't matter!

I got dysentery the first week I moved so after I recovered, I only drank Diet Coke for like six months. I also sustained myself on Kinder fingers and Cadbury Time Out bars when my grandmother was away, because I never cooked. Even though the elevator broke down for six months of the year I lived with her, and I had to go up and down the stairs a million times a day, I still gained weight because of all the chocolate I ate. I also walked to class everyday, except when it rained. I loved the smell of za'atar and tea in the mornings, and the hustle and bustle of Hamra actually gave me a sense of calm.

It didn't take me long to get used to the way of life in Beirut. I never completely conformed but always felt I was home. At first, the extended family were convinced I moved to Lebanon for a guy. They couldn't believe I would leave America, my parents and siblings just to come to AUB. But there was no guy. Just this crazy, wonderful, grating, charming town that I fell in love with. Through thick and thin for 18 years. But I like to think of myself as a lady, and a lady always knows when to make her exit.

So it's time for me to say goodbye to you, my beautiful Lebanon. But I leave behind my heart, and it will be here with you always.

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