A country I could call home

Galway, Ireland

On the 4th of August, in Beirut, something horribly horrific happened.
My heart didn’t break on this fatidic day.
It crushed and pulverized in a million pieces.

My heart was already breaking for over a decade; the fist tear happened when I was born, in the mid 80s, from the ashes of the civil war. 

Growing up, I never felt any belonging, I never fit, partly because we don’t know nor learn our own history but also because I pushed everything down. 

During my twenties, my focus was on trying to leave the country, desperate to have the career and life I could only dream about. And while that didn’t work, amazingly, I started slowly fitting in, I started feeling a sort of belonging. But I was still unhappy. I believe this feeling came from something rooted deep down in me, a feeling of insecurity. 

As a film editor, I lived through the screen for a long time. I discovered the history  of my country through the screen and now… the worst happened and I’m not there. And I find myself still taped to the screen. 

I’m a filmmaker and a filmmaker is connected to the identity of his/her own country.
How can I make films if I have no identity, don’t belong anywhere, don’t fit in my own country?

I finally landed in Ireland – a country deeply rooted in their identity. I love it here. As much as I love the feeling, it’s still not my identity.

As I walk in the streets of Galway, I feel how surreal it is. Although, it should be the opposite. What happened in Beirut should be the fiction.

Galway, Ireland

Guilt pervades everything. Guilty of not being there when it happened, guilty of not being there to help, guilty to take a good night of sleep, or have a good meal, for having the chance to take days just to process, cope and deal with the whole cacophony of emotions, guilty to have the privilege of distancing myself. Finally, guilty of breathing clean air and not hearing the sound of shattered glass every second of every day.

I feel guilty if I worry or complain about something when I have a roof over my head. 

Of course, I want to be there to feel this massive fear just like any Lebanese who survived…   

My city has been destroyed, my people dead or broken, my memories shattered. The dream of going back to Lebanon is becoming more and more impossible every day. 

Beirut, Tabaris

I’m crying because it means that I might really need to move on and not be in-between two cities or countries.

I’m crying because every ounce of my body is screaming at me to go back now but my head is trying to keep me grounded. My mind wants me to stay safe, convincing me that my friends and family are safe, that there are hundreds of people helping on the ground and that donations are coming. But my heart… what’s my heart is saying? 

The thing is, I also feel guilty because I am still resentful. I wanted to be happy in Lebanon, I wanted to have a big career there, I wanted to help my country, I wanted to build a future there, feel safe and settle in the country where I was born and where my memories are. But I couldn’t. 

Yes, I escaped this disaster, but have I truly?  I am still traumatized. I have a lot of memories of places I lost forever. This is the place where my family still lives, this is the place where I found my friends, and this is the place where I decided and learned how to be a filmmaker. 

Beirut has given me as much as it has taken from me. I want to believe that I’ve lived as much as I’ve survived there. 

I’m an artist, a dreamer, an idealistic person, who wants her country safe, a country she could call home again with love and pride.

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