Sunday, June 5, 2016

Home

I never stopped writing, except I just wrote in my diary. I didn't think any experience I was living was valuable enough for me to share anymore. Being gay in Lebanon is outrageously fun, exciting, depressing and angering. Being gay in New York City is not as impressive. Who cares about the boy who left after all. Strong enough to write but not strong enough to stay; back in Beirut a couple of weeks every year to get drunk and go to the beach like every other young person who left; so out of touch with everything that's happening in what should be his home; complains about the trash, the hot water, the internet, the roads, the drivers, the politics. I am "the one who lives in New York" now, the one who seasons his sentences with some English words, turning his rolled r's to soft ones. Who would want to know about my life: you probably have a friend like me and you probably want to punch him in the face every time he talks about how they do it in Amerka, Canada, Fransah or whichever first world country they could afford to travel to.

I am on a plane to Japan and this is the 12th page I write in my notebook. The first 5 pages were about how great my life has become and how happy I am. Those pages, I wrote for me but when I switched my audience to you, I realized the cost at which my happiness came. I left a lot behind and I will never know what my life could have been if I had stayed. It is May 17th. Happy IDAHO. Thanks for being stronger than me, than I will ever be.

But here are some updates. A lot has happened, in the past three years. I am 10kg heavier and have a scruff now. I went from being a mathematician to being a philosopher, from being an objectivist to being a realist to being a perspectivist, so from thinking there is good in this world to thinking there is just a world to thinking there is just what we think this world is. I fell in love, hard, like I had never fallen before and I got my heart broken, hard, like it was never broken before. I did activism at school and then at a national legal non-profit. While working there I celebrated being able to get married in a country that isn't mine. And that was probably the most horrible thing to realize. That's when I started actually thinking of the future I'd build, of the family I'd have so far away from the closest think I have to a home. That's when I realized that my child might not speak Arabic... my child will not speak Arabic. Could I even spend a summer in Beirut? On the Mediterranean shores, with a man and a child? Is that something that will ever be possible?

My child won't taste my mother's cooking, they won't mix three languages in a sentence. My child will be the child of an immigrant. Lebanon will only exist through the stories I tell them. My child will probably be American. I guess my child will just not be like me... but more than that, my child will be foreign to me and I will be foreign to my child.

But my child will never listen to the sound of a bomb, my child will never see a dead body. My child won't have to calculate the time at which the power is coming back or avoid the area where their friend got stabbed. My child won't get calls from me asking them to come home because someone made a speech and now people are shooting their guns. My child won't have to see their friends leave the country to have a decent life, they won't have to leave their country to have a decent life.

I always think of "home" and what it means to me. People in the United States always ask me about Lebanon with an intense curiosity but they never ask me why I left: they know why I left.

Am I staying here after I graduate or am I going back "home"? When I think of home the first thing that comes to mind isn't my mother's cooking or my childhood. It isn't my high-school friends or my old neighborhood. When I think of home, I remember the pain and the trauma, all the things I did to survive and escape. I think of the fear and the shame, the feeling of being out of place. Whenever I had any hope it was not hope for my country to get better, it was hope for me to get out and find a home somewhere else.

Why did I chose the United States out of all places to go? Because there is nowhere else to go if you have no money. America did seem like this place where you could make it if you had nothing. I got a scholarship, I got a spot at a good school and I went. It was not because I think America is great, not because of the "freedom, liberty and the American dream." I am as much as a foreigner here than I am in Lebanon. And maybe that's what I will always be.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Karim,

    It's good to hear of your experiences and most importantly, that you're happy. Remember that leaving Lebanon to a country where you can be yourself and build a future and found a family shows great strength and determination, whether gay or not. Just as much strength as the one shown by those that continue to fight for their rights in Lebanon.

    And as for the future, which seems to worry you, I think you will come to realize that being surrounded by friends, family, husband and child(ren) that love you will bring you a happiness great enough to compensate for what you have left behind. You won't be a 'foreigner' for much longer.

    Wish you all the best in your next adventures.

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