You Can Never Go Home Again.

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They say you can never go home again. It seems I will never learn this lesson.
“You are a man. What you are feeling is weakness. Move on”… Move on they say…

Time will always move forward, and trying to hold on to what is passing has never worked out for me. Moving from one chapter in my life to the next, anticipation was always faced with internal resistance. Adapting to a new environment comes easy for some humans. Others, who are deemed infected with the attachment disorder, have to face the following dilemma at each fork in the road: leaving what you are used to and venturing towards new horizons, or sticking to what is working. The childish part that stayed with me wanted to believe that there was a way to preserve the reality of what I thought I have, in a bubble, protecting it from the outside world.

After finishing two of the best years of my life at one of the most prestigious universities in Beirut, working on campus and paying for my graduate courses, I knew that the adaptation phase was coming. During these two years, I opened up to new friendships with wonderful people I wasn’t supposed to be friends with; friendships that are frowned upon, at least discreetly, because they erase the notions of Christians sticking to their own kind, and Muslims closing the social circle on any outsiders from another religion. In my case, this barrier was dust in the back mirror, not because I am a pioneer or because I am so liberal, but because when you are attracted to another guy in Lebanon, his religion is the least of your concerns. During these two years, I crushed hard and fell in love. It was my bubble. My bubble appeared static from the inside. Spending my days on campus, teaching, learning, seeing friends, then going to the gym and meeting the military guy – “Gymbo” as one of my friends used to call him, referring to my gym crush – became my routine. I learned that routine is good. It reinforced my conception that change isn’t always the law. Maybe in some corner of my existence, there was a way to freeze the perfect picture, keep it as it is forever, in limbo, looping towards infinity. What I wanted to preserve is this feeling of raw joy I would feel at the sight of this man, the tension that never seems to burst at the seams keeping what is confined under wraps, and the defense mechanism against the emptiness in other aspects of my personal life.

As I mentioned previously, I acknowledge that what I feel is probably “abnormal.” Getting attached to a place to an extent where you can’t find anywhere else to call home on God’s green earth is most probably dysfunctional. I tried living abroad on more than one occasion, and I could never reach that phase of complete adaptation where I could feel serenity. Hearing people being thankful for leaving their home town and moving on to something better always made me feel I am missing the point. In my dilemma at this fork in the road, I chose to come back home. Trying to defy the old saying that you can never come back home, the child inside me was pouting, refusing to accept logic. Leaving my job and accepting another job home should have made me serene. So why was I miserable? I knew that I failed in the test of “being man enough” and I “showed weakness.” Coming back home is weakness. A man can’t be weak.

A man can’t fall in love with another man either. Even though when thinking about him, I understood what others would mean when they talked about love, what I was feeling was another sort of “weakness.” I wasn’t “man enough” to suppress these feelings. My relation with this lieutenant became a good friendship. But then, I had all the time in the world to take it a notch further, didn’t I? Why the hurry? It was my static bubble anyway; no external dynamics could affect it. I could hold on to my defense mechanism, to the feeling that everything is going to be OK as long as this man is in my life sphere.
Then the lieutenant became a captain. And the captain was reassigned to another area. My routine was broken. The emptiness I was trying to hide was uncovered. Time moved forward. I didn’t move away from home this time. The decision wasn’t in my hands. My home moved away. In this case, how can I return home? How can I stand in the face of the natural law that dictates that you really can never go home because home is nothing more than a set of memories you hold on to?

Logic dictates that when you face failure following a certain approach, modifying the approach is the most probable thing a human would do. At certain critical events in my still young life, I was faced with a decision to change or to hold on. In my head, I knew that change is torrential and it will sweep me each and every time. But holding on to the present, trying in a futile attempt to beg time to slow down and give me a chance to understand my human existence, was always my choice. Change is never a choice. Change is the law. While fighting change, I gained resilience. Change doesn’t scare me anymore. I understood that change is the only constant in my life. And not accepting to submit to it doesn’t make me weak or less of a man, it just makes me a hopeless dreamer who will someday reach a place where he would feel at peace with letting things, places and dearest people go…

3al Malkiyyeh

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