Sunday, November 05, 2006

2 Weddings, 2 Funerals and a Car Accident.

Carpe Diem. I heard this term from two different people last July, during the war. Intrigued, I looked it up.

Basically it is Latin for seize the day or the moment and enjoy it as much as you can because life is so fragile and it can be taken away in a flash. I kind of agreed with the definition but it did not touch or move me at the time even though death and destruction were our daily bread back in July.

I guess the Big Fellow up in the skies was testing me this past month. He was more like messing with my mind regarding my acceptance of the Carpe Diem concept.

It is odd how our brains work and how they put us in a “frame of mind” when we are in a contemplating mode. The last 40 days have been really interesting from that perspective.

We are very tiny group of friends. More like brothers. We grew up together since our early ages of 8 or 9 years old. One of us was planning on getting married on the 21st of July and that of course did not happen because we were knee deep in “smart bombs and not so smart rhetoric” at the time. He postponed the wedding to Saturday September 30th.

On Friday the 29th one of the guys (A.) in our circle was heading to meet another one of our friends to discuss a few last minute issues before the big wedding and how we were gonna play a big prank on the groom and fool the parents of his bride-to-be who are Jordanian.
A. was riding his bike on the motorway when a car decided to make a sudden U-turn right in front of him. He didn’t even break and was killed on the spot. He was 35 and father to a 2 month old baby girl. I don’t recall the last time I cried that much. I may never have cried that much before. I was sitting through the funeral proceedings and the words flashed in front of my eyes again: “… it can be taken away in a flash !!!”

The wedding was grim. We are a loud bunch. We never miss a chance to poke fun at anything or anybody. We sat around that table and kept a seat empty for A. and for the sake of our groom we feigned a look of joy and happiness but we are bad actors. It showed miserably.
I always hated weddings in Lebanon. For starters the concentration of so many fake blondes in one surrounding is vomit inducing.
The display of plastic surgery prowess and “nude” clothing with Nancy Ajram and/or Wael Kfoury (1) playing loudly has always reminded me of a famous quip by Oscar Wilde: when asked to give his opinion during a wedding party about a beautiful woman, he said: she is wearing too much rouge and not enough clothes. Always a sign of despair in a woman.
Of course, Wilde was gay and that makes him an expert on women.
Despair is not my favorite emotion. Desperate people are not my favorite crowd. So unless some things change I still hate going to weddings.

The next week-end I was invited to yet another wedding. It was a close collaborator of mine who got plucked by a Lebanese expatriate who was on a visit to meet his match. I truly cared very much about this woman. She worked in my team for 7 or 8 years. I hated the idea of her getting married this way. But, it is none of my business and if the statistics are right and the ratio of women to men in Lebanon has reached 5 to 1, then by all means Mabrouk (2). I don’t want to interfere with destiny or statistics for that matter.

I hated that wedding as well not because of the graphic displays of “despair” but since I am unattached these days, there was an attempt by every “tante” (3) in the hall to introduce to me or me to a potential “mate” (By the way, mating season in Lebanon is a year round affair.)

Weddings are fun and the Carpe Diem ideology works best in such settings. Yet, I missed the opportunity to seize “anything” and I was about to get another message.

The second funeral also hit close.
This one was the celebration of a man who epitomized Carpe Diem. Uncle Y. was 73 years old when he decided he had had enough. There was not much more to do. He had done it all. He is the only one I know of who combined guns & poetry. He was the last of the “Abadayet” (4). A breed of men for whom courtesy comes first and enjoying life a close second. They never worried about money or planning the future. They lived in different times and different eras.
I sat through the condolences ceremonies for 5 days. I heard every story imaginable about him and the folks who were telling me these always ended their tale by: “...he grabbed life by its horns…”

When I walked out of the church hall where we were receiving condolences yesterday, I was thinking about his life and mine. I realized I was taking life too seriously, I was too insistent on navigating and not letting go of the helm. It was taking too much effort and too much resistance. I was worried that Carpe Diem might interfere with my future plans. But my future plans are NOW.

I slowed the car to a complete stop and signaled to turn left. As I moved to cross, a speeding car hit mine on the side and spun the car 180 degrees and I hit the gate head on.
It was a real loud crash. I unbuckled my seat and stepped out of the car. I looked at myself just to see if I was bleeding. Nothing. I squeezed my knees to check if they are ok. Nothing. I looked around, people were looking at me with awe. They did not believe I made it. The other car fled the scene. I did not care. I could not believe what just happened. My first ever car accident, 18 years after I got my driving license !!!

I looked at the car and I felt scared. During those few seconds of spinning, I kept thinking "it could all be taken in a flash".

Thanks a lot.
I got the message.
Carpe Diem.


(1) Lebanese pop culture singers. Although their names should never be used in the same sentence where the word “culture” appears.
(2) Congratulations
(3) Old woman with a knack for gossip and matching
(4) To borrow an analogy from the Wild West, these guys are the oriental version of a Jesse James or a Wyatt Earp.

24 comments:

Rampurple said...

hamdellah 3al salame!!!
seriously!

when my best friend passed away 5 years ago (cant believe its been that long!) i sort of went crazy the following months. living each day as if its my last without a care in the world.

Learn how to enjoy more out of your life. Learn how to squeeze out as many good (and bad) memories. Learn how to live your life in a way you would not regret it 60 years from now (inshallah) when your on your deathbed. BUT most importantly, learn how to do all the above without hurting a soul, or hurting yourself. Keep a safety net beneath you.

Maya@NYC said...

OUF! hamdellah 3al salemeh!
this is one tough month you've had.
Am very sorry for your losses,
(A, uncle Y and the marrying lady).

achinar said...

now this is NOT something I can be funny about . El hamdella 3assalemeh. I know how it feels to live such moments. All that I can say, your carpe diem is contagious, so carpe diem

Anonymous said...

Hello, I live in America (North Carolina) and I am glad I found your blog. I hosted two Lebanese young people from Beirut for dinner several months ago in an international exchange program and have often wondered how they are doing in recent months and if they left Beirut. It is good to read the perspective of a "real" citizen caught in the middle. Best wishes to you.

inmotion said...

ya hayete

u never said the other day and u just listened to me ramble on.

carpe diem

I'm here for you.

*big hugs* my very darling friend

Jamal said...

Was it a Red Volvo? I got rammed by a lunatic last week and he ran away too. I would really like to Carpe his Scrotum.

Cheer up buddy :o)

Liliane said...

Well, I guess God has a funny way of making us understand his messages. Hamdellah 3al Salemeh. How glad are you to be alive?

Maya said...

Very sorry for your loss...
Its good to read such experiences sometimes. Makes us put things into perspective. Hope all is well now...

Delirious said...

OMG :|

Salemit albak and very sorry for your losses~

Carpe diem indeed, now and always.

a h m a d said...

El-7amdilla 3as-salame man!

I am learning that I need to take things more easily and to let loose.

Ana Min Beirut said...

My dear Friends,
I sincerely thank you all. This is the time when friends are really appreciated.
Thank you for your concerns. I am OK. Just wanted to share and hopefully learn from this. I am sure I will be able to laugh about it very soon.
Yalla, Carpe Diem ...

inmotion said...

Even in the midst of an emotional roller coaster you managed to put a very light hearted comedic spin on all of it.

Have I told you lately that I think you're a wonderful person?

You'll be laughing again before you know it.

Hugs

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Coco said...

Sayf el Ba7r, sorry for your losses and 7amdella 3a salemtak. Mabrouk to your friends who wed.

I thought that such stories only happen in movies; so sorry it all had to happen to you in so little time. I hope you're doing well physically and emotionally.

3ala fekra, weddings outside Lebanon are as disgustingly staged and fake ;) Alla la yjarrebneh lol

Ana Min Beirut said...

Coco, thank you for your kind words and warm feelings. I am doing great and back in the swing of things.

I used to live in the US for 7 years or so and I had my share of weddings, back then (early & mid nineties) weddings were fun and people seem much more sensible to me...such weddings in Lebanon are the exception now and not the norm...
Have a good day....

Eva said...

I am very sorry what happened to you last month ......and I am truly sorry what happened in Lebanon in summer.

I am Czech temporarily working in Belgium and I would like to thank you for your blog. You make me laugh and you make me cry. I am glad that you are sharing your thoughts with us. I really like the way how pertinently you describe the things of daily life.

Thanks & Take care
Eva

Ana Min Beirut said...

Eva, welcome and thank you for your kind words and thoughts. I hope things are going well for you as well. I am so touched that you like my words and I hope to make you laugh more than make you cry...Enough crying I say...Let's enjoy whatever time we have left...
Please visit often...bye.

AM said...

Hey, I may be a bit late coming here, but I insist on saying 'l7amdella 3ala salemtak' ...

Reem said...

In spite of being late ... I would like first to say 7amdella 3assalameh..

Reading this thoughtful post reminded me of a movie that I recently watched "Just like heaven". The young lady in that movie discovers how days passed as she was so much into work, and barely thought about other aspects of life ... now ... the bad side of the stroy is that it was her soul's discovery (as flash backs) after her death in a car accident (b3eed ishabah :).... but there is a good side for that story that I won't tell you about now ... (ma baddi i7ro2 il2ossa.. may be you would like to watch it- if you haven't)...

I'm sure almost everyone of us have that sort of feeling from time to time ...where we feel how seriously we are taking this life ... although it's usally not easy to change that significantly, but it would help to start thinking about it ..

Sorry for the lengthy intervention ... but may be because I had a similar experience (terible car accident + some life lessons), i was really moved by your post.

Regards

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