I don't think anyone else loved me that way again. And I don't remember being this happy again. Perhaps it had something to do with being in my twenties. The age of believing. Or maybe it was the intensity of his love. The way he looked at me as though I were life.

He was poor, and that made him turn me into his cause. I was his money. His only means of entertainment. He was a rebel. He found joy in defying society. Took pride in being spiteful. An outcast. His cynicism was alluring. His sad smile was an invitation for a story.

I was not searching for life's answers.

I desperately wanted to be loved.

And I was.

Together we created memories the way young people can. He had no car, so we spent hours in mine, roaming the streets of Beirut. Aimlessly. Yet, we were happy. He didn't mind where I took him, so long as it was far away from his reality. Strangers smiled at us everywhere we went. They saw happiness incarnated in two people who knew so little about life's plans. Life's velvet deceit.

We'd sometimes put our money together and have a drink somewhere cheap. Bartenders always bought us drinks on the house. "There's something about you two", they'd say. He'd drink beer. I'd drink coke.

I believed this was love. I believed in love. He translated his intense and almost obsessive love for me in the car or on the rooftop of his building. Under the stars, under the rain. It didn't matter. We were young.

Police officers once caught us kissing in the car in a dark alley. I was not afraid. "We have no money and I want to love and be loved", I told them innocently. My insolence shocked them, and yet they found it endearing. "Ok" one officer said, "but enough for tonight!"

As time went by we grew tired of the streets and so we moved to the balcony of his parents' house. The one overlooking the busy streets of the district of Jdeideh in Beirut. We turned it into a virtual apartment even when it was raining.

I'd cook strange meals and we'd eat them on that balcony. His parents' house was located on the first floor so we'd people watch and create scenarios for passersby. We'd drink coffee and he'd read my future from the symbols created by residues of coffee. I'd squeeze the acne on his face for fun.

I had a home. A man who took care of my young heart. I was loved. And somehow that made me want to take care of every aspect of my life.

Suddenly, everything had meaning.

And yet, we'd only sit on the balcony. Eating pumpkin seeds. Daydreaming. Holding hands.

His family loved me. I was the young woman who portrayed a decent future wife.

But I had dreams. He didn't believe in anything.

I thanked God for everything. He didn't believe God existed.

I wanted to befriend everyone. He was angry at life.

I wanted to make the whole world my own. He was content on the balcony.

And so I left.

I went on a long journey that turned me into a woman. But not before my heart was broken into a zillion pieces and my innocence shattered into a million stories.

I never knew what happened to him, that young man who took such good care of my heart.

And then one day, not so long ago, I drove by his house, after 15 years of absence. There he was. Smoking a cigarette on the balcony. That same angry face. That steely gaze fixated somewhere far. I stopped the car and just sat there staring at his profile. His Indifference towards the happenings of daily life around him. The veins of his hand protruding in what looks like hatred. Yes. That's him alright.

"No one has ever loved me that way again, you know?" I whispered midst the haze of tens and tens of pictures swiftly leaving my past to visit me there in the car.

Suddenly I was in my twenties again. And I believed. I was in my twenties and I hadn't met life's deceit yet.

I didn't have the courage to speak to him. Fifteen years have passed, and I am no longer the same person I used to be.

I slowly drove away. One day. I shall come back for a visit one day.

...Back then I desperately wanted to be loved. And I was.

And then everything else happened.

مزرعة "TerrAyoun" في جبل صنين: مسكن ملوّن في أرض الأحلام

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