Darling Wild Child, Lebanon.
Irritating Teenage Drama Queen, Lebanon.
Identity Crisis…. it’s ok baby, you’re finding yourself, Lebanon.
Cynical Old Whore, just add more lipstick, it’ll be fine, Lebanon.
While everyone gets a turn and seeds their venom deeper, Lebanon.
Masochistic Fetishist Non-Nation, what shall we do with you?
Smells like 2006, nauseatingly chocolat-y and I can’t sleep. Summer had started with a barbecue, good music and a new dress. I had baked a chocolate cake and made big plans for July. It was going to be a sweet epic summer.
Oh it was epic alright…
We were laughing at someone’s joke when phones started ringing, half the party went home, the rest moved to the TV room. Planes, shelling, war. Just like that, life froze until further notice. After Sayed Hassan’s speech, a girl brought my cake from the kitchen and started eating “This is bad, she said, I need chocolate”. We had chocolate cake and lots of wine.
The next day, a friend lost 3 cousins and one uncle, all gone in one bomb. I was safe, in another part of the country, might as well have been another planet.
After talking to her, I baked 2 batches of cookies, 2 batches of meringue, another chocolate cake, and I discovered that baking helped me think.
That summer was a suspended moment in time, I talked to people I never talk to because we were stuck together, discovered new places in my neighborhood,because there was nowhere to go, but there were no new games to be played.
The worse part was being powerless.
The worse part was feeling trapped.
The worst part was the well oiled machine of Lebanon. We know what to do in times of crisis, what food to stock, how to get gas for the car, fuel for power generators, been there done that and we’ll teach it to our children who will do the same someday.
The worst part was watching death on TV, like a video game, while I baked.
How could I tell people I couldn’t find a way to care. Of course I was annoyed, I was upset, I hated feeling trapped and stuck. I was horrified at the atrocities, I was angry too. But deep inside, I was mostly numb. That’s not Lebanon’s mess, it’s my own and the fact that I can’t connect.
I couldn’t get myself to care, at least not enough, not enough to do something about The Mess and that’s not normal. It can’t be normal, true empathy is missing from my brain.
One day, I woke up wondering if it was really all happening for real. So I drove to the Sanayeh garden, to parking lots, to schools. Officially, I was helping an NGO deliver supplies. Perversely, I was checking if it was true, trying to understand, to get myself to feel, making sure it was not a sick joke The Mess was playing on us.
If I had told them it still didn’t feel real, they would have probably punched my teeth in.
At night, I went out into deserted streets, feeling guilty for wanting to go out and dance, and drink, and scream myself stupid. Survival mode is not living.
But mostly, that summer, I baked. I drowned in chocolate. I baked cookies, meringues, creme brûlée, fed it all to stressed out people watching TV and nervously munching on my food.
I dipped strawberries in chocolate, it’s ridiculously easy and really good for my nerves. Basically, all you do is dip strawberries in chocolate (Ha!). It’s not rocket science but it takes time to dip the strawberries one at a time, gently, and in the end, your brain stops, which is a relief. Good thing everyone loved them, my warberries.
I also dipped meringue in chocolate. They were not Pinterest-pretty, not even store-bought pretty, more like a gross battlefield in red black and white.
At my most disturbed, i mimicked bombs as I dipped strawberries, trying to get into the pilot’s head, understand why. At my most alarmed, i just stopped, left it all there and left the house.
I walked around, usually ending up at the beach where I was alone. I took advantage of that by removing my top when I was in the water. At least I could free my neck from my swimsuit’s annoying strap. It wasn’t enough to relieve the tension.
The tension of feeling like cattle.