One evening, round ten years in the past in Lebanon, after I was presupposed to be deep in my goals, I got here throughout an image of some avenue in New York on a stranger’s Fb web page. I ran to my mother, asking her if we may go there in the summertime, and she or he stored nodding her head till it was convincing sufficient for me to return to sleep. Ten years later, the New York Metropolis lights hold me awake all evening lengthy. I stay in a waking dream.
On my airplane to NYC, I stored questioning why the Stanford in New York program would select that our dorms be positioned in Brooklyn versus Manhattan, the guts of town. In my head, that solely meant lacking out on occasions, an extended commute and wasted hours. I used to be improper.
Brooklyn Heights feels precisely like my hometown, Saida, whereas being nothing prefer it. It’s near town but additionally removed from it. Brooklyn Heights, identical to Saida, is the most effective of each worlds.
The Stanford in New York flats are subsequent to the Brooklyn Heights promenade, which affords among the many most iconic views within the metropolis. You’ll be able to see the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State constructing, the Chrysler constructing and even the Statue of Liberty whereas standing there. You’ll be able to peek into the chaos and the push of the vehicles whereas basking within the solar, watching it go down and ensuring you’re taking the best photos in order that you’ll not have to return again tomorrow, which you already know you’ll.
On Sunday, I sat there on a bench subsequent to a married couple, with my favourite Montague Avenue Bagels, and I seen how most individuals have been silent, although their footsteps have been audible.
On Monday, as I took a lunch break from my work on the NYC Fee on Human Rights, I couldn’t even name my mother as a result of I used to be distracted by the conversations round me, curious to know extra, but additionally as a result of I couldn’t hear a phrase she mentioned.
Beirut has modified rather a lot after the August 2020 explosion, but it surely stays a vigorous metropolis that blooms in the course of the summers when foreigners and immigrants come again to rejoice togetherness and go to their outdated reminiscences. Being in Beirut means listening to music from each nook, having to cowl your ears when vehicles begin honking at a minor inconvenience and listening to conversations of ladies your age planning their weekend getaways as a result of they wished to “get together the ache away.”
I’d spend my days in Beirut, hopping from one good friend’s condominium to the subsequent, consuming take-out meals and complaining in regards to the skyrocketing costs. Generally, I used to be too enraptured in that chaos, enthusiastic about relocating with no actual plan or technique. Nonetheless, all I wanted was a single voice message from my mother, telling me what my grandmother cooked as we speak and the way I ought to come again so we may watch “Olympus has fallen” for the tenth time collectively; telling me to return again to Saida.
Saida has additionally modified rather a lot after the Beirut explosion. Individuals cover their trauma behind their smiles in probably the most noticeable method doable. What characterizes Saida is the individuals inhabiting it. Dwelling there, it’s a must to negotiate for thirty minutes earlier than accepting a present, check out each meals on the desk or clarify to the host that it wouldn’t be private should you fail and finish day by day with a espresso run along with your favourite individuals, bumping into at the least 5 of your least favourite individuals. Saida is extra intimate. You spend your complete life dreaming of getting out and when you do, you begin counting down the times until you’re again. Whereas I get pleasure from touring to new locations, I’ve by no means met individuals like those in Saida.
Saida is the right steadiness to Beirut, however Beirut isn’t the identical with out Saida. The identical method that Brooklyn Heights is the right steadiness to Manhattan, however Manhattan isn’t the identical with out Brooklyn Heights.