There is certain poetry to the awakening of cities, the way they move, sound, and smell at the break of dawn. Beirut a city with many facets wakes up to its own rhythm; tattered, humbled yet alive and surviving. There is something quiet uplifting about a morning run. There is the sound, the feel, and the slow movement of a city waking up to a new day. The lazy movement of people leaving their homes while their freshly sprayed perfume lingers in the air behind them.
Every city wakes up to a different rhythm, a different beat. As the darkness turns to light Beirut, like every old city, wakes up a bit shaky at first and gains its crescendo throughout the day.
This city with its broken pavement,
The way its wild greens and shrubs grow in between its destroyed buildings and broken pavements, escaping, masking their memories of war proving that beyond everything life as stubborn as it is will always exist,
The scent of jasmine mixed with the exhaust pipe of cars rushing about their morning chores,
The sound of honking cars mixed with “ya ahla” (hello) and “sabaho” (good morning to you) ,
The smell of fresh baked mana’ish that perfumes the air with the essence of piping hot bread and za’atar,
The wild cats on the streets finding refuge beneath cars,
The way it moves and the friendliness of morning vendors
The beggars on the streets claiming their spots,
The old men sitting on their plastic chairs in front of their shops dressed in earth-toned suits that mirror a mirage of a non-existent Beirut in its heydays. Those suites once buried will burry with them that memory that slowly vanishes every day with the tearing down of yet anther old building and their plastic chairs will be left like silent ghosts in a city inhabited by its own ghosts,
The blue skies that seem to paint the horizon with a Mediterranean vibe coupled with a soft sea breeze coming from the sea interrupted by the morning traffic and yet amongst all of that somehow the birds still find a place in the sky to chirp to their own rhythm,
The dekenehs (mini markets) receiving products in beaten up mini vans,
The odd tourists that stand out among the cities inhabitant trying to find their way around.
The old men and women peeking from their balconies watching this cacophony of sounds and sight that make Beirut just what it is, a home with many facets.
The way every shop owner tends their sidewalk section, making sure in their own way that this city is still up for business,
This… This is my Beirut
With the thump of every foot I learn to let go and I can feel the pounding heart beat of this city, slow, tired, and run down at times, rushed, angry, gritty at others; old and surviving most of the times.
Every morning as I run I learn, just like Beirut, how to make these bones mine, in spite of the heartaches, in spite of the setbacks, birds fly high and I remember love. I look up, blue skies touch dilapidated buildings and high-rise modern towers equally and I understand how it feels to need to keep going forward. There is beauty in the motion and unfolding of this city. And as I run along these city streets paved in grey, the buildings lined against the sky I can’t help this certain kind of calling to protect, honor, and live side by side with this distraught city, this city with many ghosts. If you run with them long enough, they will reveal themselves to you along the many war hollowed buildings where the light seems to find its way, seeping through them, reminding us that there is life after all and no matter what Beirut is here to stay.
To my Beirut, we are but two lost souls finding our way through motion…