We landed in New York on Monday 12th of August at around 3 pm and everything since then has been so overwhelming, so unreal and so raw. It is like the first jump off the plane, those few seconds they call free falling, where nothing makes sense, and your center of gravity is lost somewhere in the air, and things pass by you, things bigger than you, where you realize that you are a small creature falling in the big open space, those few seconds where you are unable to get in touch with your own sense of being because you are trying to collect yourself to hopefully land on the irresistible grounds you have been building from a distant land.
And ever since we landed, Dania, Romy and myself have been wondering where I am. I have been mostly quiet, taking things, recording them, saving them somewhere. I have been less articulate than usual, very little words (sometimes up to 7 words a day – according to little miss Bdeir), very little squeaks and screams, just silence.
I don’t know why exactly, but having gone on a particular journey this year to be able to get here, I think I am scared. I am scared to admit it is real, because once it is, it might pass by too quickly. I am afraid of my words. I am afraid they will frame New York, outline it in a way. I am unable to touch this city because it is one that can’t be tamed.
When I turn my eyes to Beirut, they fall into place because we have the same nature, the same coarseness and the same bruises. But New York and I, we just met, my eyes have not found the hidden holes and the tender pieces to rest on, my eyes still look at it in awe, in lust, and in fear. If all love stories start with desire, then this is mine.
Feelings have been caught up with the rush of everything. A few days back, Romy and I went to a coffee shop to work, and the second I decided to just stop everything and write about this place, I felt a flood raid my hands, and I am not sure words can accurately convey how much of a physical feeling it was… too many things to write about, too many of the things I don’t understand yet, too many emotions, too many imaginings, and I am unable to level it with thought. I mostly feel like a 5 year old kid, where I see everything so big, so beautiful and so colorful, where life looks like a big game of hide and seek, and all the places are like houses made of little dreams and all the faces are little people looking for someone to play with. But sometimes I surface back to 24 and realize that this is equally a dream, a reality and an accomplishment.
Going to school to study the passion that my 11-year-old self discovered, the passion that the rest of me was never able to let go of. Being in the city that great people sing to, that people write poetry, books and scripts about, the city that people envision in their imagination, the city of dreams, the city of artists in the making, those who crave a struggle before success, a concrete jungle, they say, one that never sleeps.
I was walking by a big bookstore today, I was walking alone, maybe for the first time since I got here, and I stopped by to get lost in the most familiar, and one of the sections was called: Read New York. I briefly walked through it, only read titles and one-liners, and I realized how many people crave New York in words, how many people want to write about their own New York.
For me, it is not fair to write New York, at least not yet.
But being here. Just New York, and just writing. This is my dream. One that I built with the help, compassion and love of many of you. One that was structured by building blocks with your names engraved on them. One that I will forever apprize and appreciate.
So now I am here. And I want to extend my deepest and strongest-I-have-ever-felt gratitude and love to Tala Mortada, Rasha Jamaleddine, Joe Baz, Naima Zein, Romy Saber, Nathalie Rashid, Jad Daoud, Jad Chahine, Zeina Halawi, Hind Hobeika, Dana Halabi, Zeina Mbarak, Rhea Aghniadis, Raghida Raad, Zena El Khalil, Tarek Aoun, Nour Zoghby, Caren Zgheib, Nicole Brown, Mirna Khairallah, Richard Pelgrim, Lara Mekhael, Bechir Gemayel, Nour Naboulsi, Abir Abdul Ahad, Aimee Raad, Steven Shbaklo, Nadim Abou Samra, Joyce Younes, Serge Wehbe, Ali Ibrahim, Nadia Benab, Firas Mghames, Jamil Armanazi, Iffat Saadeh, Lucien Salloum, Kerlo Aoun, Salim Kronfol, Miguele Issa, Elie Rizkallah, Miss M Leila, Sary Hamadeh, Stephanie Kassouf, Sarah Farhat, Sara El Ali, Hiba Kronfol, Aya Kayal, Biba El Merhebi, Leah Dunia, Rawane Jbara, Joanne Kubba, Leen Sadder, Adib Dada, Rasha Ismail, Joyce Bejani, Romy Raad, Joseph Daoud, Amine Attalah, Celine Chami, Ramzi Ibrahim, Mabelle Abi Ramia, Ralph Dagher, Nada Akl, Rawane Khalil, Ralph Dagher, Ibrahim Diab, Khurram Masood, Sima Chamma and Antoun Hajj.
To my spectacular parents who are my most beautiful inspiration, who made me with the tenderness of their hearts and the kindness in their eyes, to my golden brothers, who always give their all to make sure my life is secure, to the sister I never had –my brother’s love- who continuously strengthens and encourages me, to my aunts and uncles who believe in me, my craft and my dream, to my cousins who are brothers and sisters to me, one of whom is my new found muse, thank you all for being an indescribable support.
And to the incredible group of friends that I have, to the army, the frontline soldiers, the weaponry and the shields, you have joined in my battle and made it worthwhile. Thank you for your hearts.
It’s good to be here. It’s good and also very lucky to be here with Romy and Dania, they are my connection to Lebanon, the definition of home in the middle of big and busy city lights.
As for New York, it is a free fall, for now.