INGULFED

(Notes for the Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah)

Archive for بيروت

(Non)essential — غير) الاساسي)

The day after the United States began to evacuate “non-essential” staff from its Embassy in Damascus, I too bought a ticket out of Syria. Except to use that ticket I’d first have to fly in the other direction — I wasn’t even there yet.

I spoke to my parents from the 3:00 am bus leaving Abu Dhabi for an airport three hours away in the north of the UAE. “Do you hear the birds?” they asked. It was May in the suburbs. “Do you hear the air conditioning?” I asked back. While the next week never ceased to the vacation I needed it to be, it felt at first and at moments like a sprint towards a fire. I flew to the Levant to thaw from the sterility of the Emirates. Sure, fire can burn, but it warms until the bite.

So there I was, heading to the places my mother had never wanted me to go, at the times when the world said it was worst to go to them. And it was two days before Mothers’ Day.

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