Messy Little Lives

As a person who lived his entire life in Beirut and dreamed of making it to America, john wondered about the nature of things in western countries. He wondered how basic concepts like love and romance played out there. After all, he had seen enough of them here to know these things tend to deviate from a single norm and don’t often follow a straight line.

Looking at love and finding love was like looking through different lenses at the same time. You could see different pictures, different scopes of the same image. Here was a girl counting the days till new years’ eve to finally get a chance to be with her man – a boy in his twenties who had enrolled in the army and was given permission to go home once every three months.

The girl waiting for him only knew him through text; they had chatted and flirted and made promises to be with each other over the phone, and she had made her own secret plans and personal promises of things she would do once they’d get the chance to spend a night together.

Over in the big city, Achrafyeh, the heart of Beirut, a man who had waited 5 years to tell his best friend he was in love with her has finally seen it happening to him. He couldn’t believe how his luck finally changed one fateful night and he now wakes up and walks the streets every day a man happily in a relationship. Every morning on his way to work (which happens to be downtown), he makes a stop in front of his girlfriend’s house and leaves a love note on the windshield of her sky-blue car.

Another couple found each other in college taking French class together. One day the boy realized he was facing difficulties with the language Rousseau and Sartre used to transmit their brilliance to the world and sought help from the girl who always sat next to him in class. Now they are unbreakable, going strong and a model of exemplary behavior and unconditional love among their peers and in their friends’ groups.

Then there is the dreamer. The poet. The guy who always falls in love with a girl out of his league and spends his time writing about her. He writes poems addressed to her and short stories about her and believes that if she is really the one, then she would be able to see through them and decipher them and love him back with the same fondness and ardor.

And of course, there is the young woman stuck in a corporate job. This woman unexpectedly finds love in the eyes of a handsome co-worker sporting a groomed beard and a flashy shirt. She chases him around the office and tries to sit with him through lunch in the company kitchen every day just to examine his eyes up close and observe his rugged face. But that same man is hooked to another girl – a girl two years younger than him with hazel eyes and a nose piercing.

These people are scattered and their love is scattered and no matter if you drink or pray or try to understand it you will never be able to piece this puzzle together – because the pieces are all there but sometimes they’re just not the right ones. Sometimes they simply don’t fit.

People chase people and people go after a love they think is theirs or a love they think they deserve. But love comes in different forms and stories and john wondered what the norm of it was. What was the rule to love and what was the exception? Or were all these cases exceptions and was the rule something we were still trying to postulate? There were people who fell in love with each other over phones and text messages. There were others that only took one moment to fall for each other – one gaze into each other’s eyes, one night out drinking and partying in a bar, one afternoon spent in the car watching the beautiful prairies in the North.

So which was it? Some people fell in love with artists, some fell in love with people who had a job or a house or a decent family. Some women fell for tough men and some men fell for tough women. Some were nice and some were charismatic and social and funny and good-looking. Some were shy and charming. Some took the only chance they had and others blew the many that were presented to them. And some never had a chance to begin with despite everything they tried and everything they set up to be. And while the world caught fire and burned and rose from its own ashes again, those were the ones observing it from afar.