This month marks the 15-year anniversary of the July War on Lebanon. I kept a diary at the time, and will be uploading excerpts from it over the coming 33 days.
Things are quiet and the absence of jets in the sky and bomb blasts during the day is like a huge weight lifted from the collective consciousness. The president of the university has returned to campus; the daycare center on the bottom floor of my building started up again; the water in my building has come back after being gone for a week or so; hundreds of thousands of people are ignoring travel bans and are making their way back to their homes, or what is left of them. I’m not saying that things are anything like back to normal, but there is a desire to get there, and soon.
Yesterday I was sitting watching the news with my friends’ daughter. At one point, she said, out of the blue: “I love Lebanon.” I looked up at her; I both-eye-blinked Lebanese style, a sign of agreement, of acknowledgement, of kinship, and I said: “I do too.”
Yesterday, while talking to my friend down in the department, talking about how I had decided to stay here, my friend asked me: “enta mabSouT hon??“—are you happy here?—and I answered: “Yes, very much.” He replied: “This is what’s important.”
And today is my birthday, in this, my birthplace.
And my birthstory from before my adoption comes together in bits and pieces; it’s not a pleasant one, but it makes me more determined to stay in some strange way. And given the circumstances of that time, and given those of this time, and given that I am back here in Beirut, and given that I am fine, and that I have absolutely nothing to complain about: al-Humdulillah. I do love Lebanon.
I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier than I have just being here; and today, I don’t know if I’ve ever been so sad.