Saturday, March 2, 2013

Two weeks!

It's nearing midnight, the proverbial bewitching hour, and I'm stuck at home with a mammoth headache. Popping ibuprofen hasn't helped much. At least there's meaningful baseball on now, as Australia and Taiwan are playing the first game of the World Baseball Classic. Don't think I'll be watching the games at 5 and 8am tomorrow...


What? You mean it's morning? Wow, I forgot what it was like to get a full night's sleep without waking up. Chris was in Rockville last night. It was great!

Speaking of Chris, we'll probably go to Palm Sunday mass at the Maronite church downtown Beirut since that's his thing. It'll be in Arabic, but a Catholic mass is the same in any language. He'll figure it out.

The church is next to the gigantic mosque that Rafiq Hariri built after downtown Beirut was destroyed and where he was buried after his assassination. The Maronites didn't like that it dwarfed their church, so they decided to build a massive bell tower to compete. It looks like a clunky minaret.

This is the back of the church, by the way. Beneath it are Roman ruins. Behind me is a TGI Friday's. If you wonder why I am so fascinated with this city, just look at all the contradictions you can see standing in this spot.

Two weeks from today we'll be there, touching down and going straight to Amigo's pub and drinking Almaza as soon as we drop our bags in the airport. Heck, we might just go straight to the pub. It'll be 11pm by the time we get there, but it'll be a Saturday night, early for Beirut, and we'll still have several hours to enjoy. Nothing like getting your first taste of the Middle East in a bar. It will change his perception immediately. That is my intent.

Now, I lived in Beirut for a year spread out over a two-year time period. But I had been working in the Middle East for a decade before I stepped foot in Lebanon. I had been to Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey, but never for more than a week. Beirut, well, Beirut was nothing like any of them. It felt like the center of the universe from the moment I stepped out of the airport. That was for a two week trip for work, but I knew instantly that it would become a big part of my life. I felt like I was supposed to be there.

I still do.

I'm already there. I'm not sure I ever really left. Maybe that's why I struggled at my last job and why I feel a bit depressed about this one. How can you be totally engaged in something when spiritually you are an ocean away?

So you see, I HAVE to get Chris to fall in love with the place, so I have to show him the side of Beirut that he will identify with. Seeing the similarities of foreign lands is something many people have trouble with. I have no idea how Chris is; not only is this our first trip abroad together, but he hasn't been out of the country in twenty years. And I have a desire to return to Lebanon for another long stint. He has to love it.

But how can you not?

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