Friday, November 9, 2012

8 portraits of Longing

“I miss you,” I said.
“I miss me too, Don,” he answered.
I knew what he meant, all too well. I wasn’t sure which of us was lost, him or me. Or was it the rest of the world? You live, you work you die. You meet people that suck all your dreams out of you, or you make up your own dreams that the universe seems so adamant on making impossible. He was right there, and I missed him because he wasn’t there at all, and neither was I.
He’s been dead for 15 years now. I miss him every single day, God rest his soul. Sometimes, I imagine he’s right there, and I would talk to him, tell him everything, and he’d listen quietly and patiently. I’d always know the answer just talking to him, or his ghost – that’s what I like to call him when he’s a figment of my imagination. Most of all, I just miss his hug. Having spent my entire childhood hugging him or making sure I stayed close enough to hug him, the fact that one night, out of the blue, he was gone never really sunk in. Sometimes, I’d be glad he wasn’t there because then he’d be disappointed, and I wouldn’t want him to be disappointed in me. But it didn’t really matter, he is always there, and a figment of my imagination he will always be.
It isn’t easy to be just the two of us. It was actually quite sad sometimes. It’s true that he visits all the time, calls all the time, and remains as annoying as ever, but he just isn’t there which makes it all wrong. But then, I know he’s happier, which makes it all right. I’m not selfish, at least I hope I’m not, but I hate how sometimes some things remain unspoken. I could not ask for more, but I just miss him.
I don’t miss him, not one second, not the bad, not even the good. In fact, the thought of him makes me gag and want to throw up. I am still angry, I’m so so angry, and I don’t ever want to let go of that anger, that rage. I’m even angry at myself, and I don’t want to let that go either. I don’t miss him, not in the least. I just miss finishing work and instantly knowing who to call to tell about my day.
Calling him isn’t it, not even the call itself.
I just miss knowing.
“I really miss you, come on, come back :( ”
He picked the worst possible time to do his PhD abroad, the absolute worst possible time, when the whole world seemed to be saying goodbye to me, nicely and not so nicely. It’s been two years already, well, almost two years, and he hasn’t come back, not even for a brief holiday. I can’t really blame him, he’s got commitments, but I miss him. On my down days, I’d miss how he’d wake me up at 8 am to go for 4 hour long walks. I miss how he showed me my favorite place in Cairo, or how we’d spend the whole day together just talking and talking and talking. I miss how he’d corner me into making a decision, he still does that on skype, but it just isn’t the same. But he’s coming back for a vacation finally! It will be a month that I plan not waste. But then he’ll travel again…
And I’ll miss him again.
It’s my favorite city in the whole wide world, always has been, and probably always will be. There is something about walking along that particular beach, looking at that particular part of the sea, getting lost, walking in the rain, sitting at that cafĂ©, just being there that mends the heart. Everything fades away there, even the people. I think I might have been an Alexandrian in another life. How else could a place I see a few days a year mean that much to me, give me so much peace? I miss Alexandria. I will forever miss Alexandria… It’s where my heart belongs.
We sat around laughing at each other, making jokes, telling funny stories. It’s been so long, too long, since she smiled so much. Doesn’t she just have the most radiant smile in the world? It’s a smile you look at and you know that once upon a time this woman was in love, was alive, and was happy, but she’s not anymore. I hardly have any memories of us playing together when I was a child. The playing was my dad’s area of expertise; she had to be the bad guy. But when she smiles and when we laugh, I remember bits and pieces, not so many, nothing major, but I remember the amount of love that just flowed from her, and I remember her back when she was happy. I’d always feel a touch of sadness whenever I make her smile, because I know it wouldn’t last, and I know how much I’m going to miss the smiling version of her.
Up until lately, I’ve had an easy life, and considering all the help and support I get from friends and family, I can fairly say that I still have an easy life, thank God for that. But there were times when life was easier, clearer, when it made more sense and I had some idea of where I was going. I usually got there too, but it was never what I had expected when I did. The grass is never greener on the other side. That’s the thing; life changes, circumstances change, God knows how much I’ve changed. Do I miss it; the life I had once upon a time? Not really. Do I miss who I used to be, at a time when I didn’t even know how innocent I was? Sometimes. I just don’t miss who I was. I don’t want to lose what I’ve learned so far. Sometimes, I imagine if I were still the same person I was back then, but I’d always end up feeling incomplete. There are things I could have now that would only fit her, the ‘me’ from the past, and even though they would be nice to have now, I don’t really want them. I am who I am, and aren’t we the sum of our experiences? I’ll claim that I have been through a lot for a girl my age, and there are things I would take back, and there are other things I wish never have happened, but then I’d lose so much of me in the process, and I don’t want that. Dear 20 year old me, I miss you sometimes, but I’m glad you’re gone.
Image by Bishoy Beshara

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