Chapter 3: Flutters958 views
Previously, Chapter 2: The Walk
25 August 2007, Irish Independent page61, Sarah’s Stars with Sarah Delamere Hurding, Gemini: Steer safe passage through heavy choppy waters. Didn’t you go through this trauma already? Don’t be alarmed by repeat patterns; but do address the crux of the problem. Access your intrepid self; you are a born survivor. Pay attention to your deepest responses and listen carefully.
I read my horoscope. Dublin airport hummed. I read it over. I listened. I read it over yet again. I heard the teeming thoughts clouding my head; growing anxieties. I tore out the page of the newspaper. It nestled in the book in my hand; “A Long Way Down”. I rubbed my right cheek. It eased the pain; a slight growing pain in my tooth.
With every step I took towards him, the bag was getting heavier. I hoped my fear was not projecting vice onto my face. The heightening awareness of the presence of that bottle in my bag was magically adding weight to it. I was jaded with images of scandals, jail and deportation. The Saudi customs police man gestured for me to cross. He did not search me. I could have sworn he might have even smiled at me. The wreck of what used to be me arrived in Jeddah. Geraldine O’Mara rested her hand discretely on mine. The warm comfort of that hand brought me down from my angst induced high. I was happy, so happy, as the taxi raced the sandstorm away from the airport.
I locked my room. I took it out. It rested, an only hope, in my palms. Its existence in mine was factual. Its presence haunted me with graphically vivid images. It gained a life; we conversed. I opened the bottle. I took a pill. I swallowed. I listened. I yearned to hear. I closed my eyes. I wanted to perceive my pill’s battle with our potential enemy. I could not. I put down the Truvada bottle on the table next to my laptop. I ignored possibilities; I needed to keep my sanity.
I logged on to Facebook. “You have one new message” it read.
2:57pm August 25th
unfortunately we did not meet again before I left Ireland
3:51pm August 25th
Hey, I am so sorry mate I couldn’t get in touch with you that night I was stuck in a meeting until late… I hope you had a good time… Where did you go to? I remember you were leaving Ireland a few days after you called. Anyway are you coming back? Did you like Ireland? Yalla come back so we can catch up… Take care.
My cousin gave me his Irish number. “Call him, Karim is a nice guy. We know his parents,” she said. I called. We arranged to meet; on the second day of my arrival to Dublin early that August. I searched for a Lebanese complexion amongst the fleeting ones next to the 1916-rising-GPO on O’Connell Street. Karim came into sight. He smiled and waved. I took a step towards him waving back. Alongside him, two black eyes sparkled. An implication I sensed but could not comprehend. The man rearranged the tumbling black fringe on his forehead for it to immediately cascade back down. He strolled half a step behind Karim Nasrallah.
“This is Omar from Syria, my best friend in Dublin,” Karim said introducing us. Karim invited us that evening to the “Cedar Tree Restaurant” on Grafton Street. Omar and I were supposed to meet again before the end of my vacation in Dublin. I called him. He canceled. I went to the George. I met James instead.
My tooth is hurting. There was no sign of time being miraculously impeded. Days were rolling. The number of pills in the bottle was diminishing. The date was approaching. The virus would soon jump over the detection limit. I wished I was able to run away from my own body; just to leave it there and run. I put a piece of garlic in my right ear. My mom says it eases toothache.
I sent Omar a message. After all, hadn’t he played a role in pulling the strings of my destiny that night he failed to show?
6:50pm September 19th
Hey there again.
I had a great time in Ireland. I am planning on moving there. I am searching for a job at the moment. If I were to find one, I will move in December. If not, it will be June, with or without a job. You never told me what you do for a living. How is Karim?
7:08pm September 19th
Hi thanks for the message, I am glad you had a good time here. Yalla come over. Karim is fine. He is too decent for my taste. Ha-ha. And he’s always very busy. I don’t blame him as he is trying to build himself a name in the prestigious architecture world here in Dublin. I don’t see him as much. And by the way, he is fasting, I am not…Ha-ha. I am sure you will find a job. I work in a bank; Keep in touch and take care.
Bye for now.
2:49pm September 21st
Hey, how are you, mate? I never heard back from you. I am going out tonight, so I bet I’ll have a hangover tomorrow. It’s cool though as I’ve the day off. What do you work as? I like your Facebook photos; the posing ones as well. Ha-ha. I had to cover the screen at work as I opened that album. Thank god nobody saw it; they would have thought I am queer or something. Ha-ha. How is the weekend going over your end; anything interesting?
3:15pm September 21st
Hmmmm. I am fine…
Take it easy on the booze boy. Jeddah is the most boring city I’ve ever been to, especially in Ramadan. I can’t wait to move to Ireland. I did not see any new comments on any of my photos. Comment just for me to know what you like. Are you dating anyone over there?
3:37pm September 21st
Well, I did leave a comment under the photo you took in Kilmainham Jail. They filmed a movie there called “In the Name of the Father”; it’s one of my favorite movies. It’s based on a true story. You have to see it. Do you fast? I don’t and when I am asked I go no, no, no (Amy Winehouse? do you like her?) Man, there is a lot on offer here, so I am better off single. What about u? Are you single?
3:59pm September 21st
What do you think of the posing photos you saw? “In the Name of the Father” is one of my favorite movies of all times as well. Ramadan in Jeddah sucks especially as I am not a practicing Muslim; I am more of an atheist. Are you going to rehab? (Amy winehouse; anorexia nervosa?) I am single. Where do you go out to usually?
5:00pm September 21st
Well, you are such a poser. Ha-ha. How do you know Narjis, one of the two friends we have in common. You know she is Syrian as well, don’t you? I go where good company leads me. What’s your favorite pub in Dublin?
5:51pm September 21st
I have been all over the place; Temple Bar, the George and loads of other pubs and nightclubs. I went out every single night, and got drunk. By the way, I am good with hangovers; I don’t get any. I met Narjis when she moved from Damascus to study in Beirut Arab University. She used to share a house with some friends of mine. How do you know her?
6:05pm September 21st
Well, good for you, glad you enjoyed yourself here. I do get hangovers as I drink a lot. Well, all bars and pubs are great but I prefer the local ones, where you meet real Dubliners. Narjis and I were in the same year in school. It’s such a small world! So, you haven’t told me what you work at, mate?
6:11pm September 21st
I am a Graphic designer. I don’t like the Dubliners; their accent is as harsh as their attitude, compared to the country men. I would love to take some pictures of you. By the way, you have better photos of yourself than the one on display.
6:21pm September 21st
Wow, I’ll hold you on to that. I was looking for someone to take my photos; as I was thinking of acting or modeling. So, now I have one more reason to wait for you to come over. I like Graphic Design. I know that now you’ll say, because I am a banker, that you like banking as well. Ha-ha-ha-ha. Well, Graphic Designers are wanted a lot here. Come while the Celtic Tiger is still roaring and it will be easy for you to get a job. I know; it’s an old picture I have on display. Which one you think is better? Yalla, pick one and I’ll use it.
6:40pm September 21st
You would be a very daring person if you post photos I will take of you. J
By the way, you have a nice smile and your eyes are very expressive. Start working out; you have until the 18th of December. I pick the black and white one as your profile photo.
7:16pm September 21st
Then we have to wait until the 18th of December. So, are you definitely coming over to Ireland? I’m heading home now. I’ve just finished work. Yah, yah, I was very busy today, on Facebook that is. Ha-ha. Take care mate and enjoy your weekend.
7:41pm September 21st
Yes, I am certainly coming over for Christmas. The new picture you used is much better. Watch out for the hang over.
1:47pm September 23rd
Hi. How are you today? I Hope everything is fine and you had a good weekend. Man, I have the worst hangover ever. I had loads to drink and couldn’t sleep.
I’m going to get something to eat and have a DVD day. Take care.
7:18pm September 23rd
It’s sad to know that you are in pain, even though it’s self inflicted . What DVD did you watch? You sound sweet; I am happy I’m getting to know you better. Since that day we met; you’ve been on my mind.
10:14pm September 23rd
Hiya. My headache is better. I watched “The Transformers” and “Rush Hour III”. I still have “Die Hard” to go. Yalla find a job. I’m here for you. Let me know if I can help in anything besides posing. Ha-ha. You sound cool as well and sweet. I think it will be great to have you around. Yalla get a job fast and come over. So, we can enjoy the craic together. I am happy to get to know you as well. I wish I had met you again when I had the chance. Yalla maybe that’s better, as I wasn’t in a good mood that day. You look really nice in that new profile picture. You look like hmmm… I can’t describe it.
2:35pm September 24th
Did you draw any conclusions about me from my profile?
2:58pm September 24th
Yah, loads of them. Sometimes people ask a question looking for a specific answer. What unasked question do you want an answer to?? My conclusions are general. You are a nice guy and I think we get along very well. We have similar ways of thinking. Or might I be wrong? Are you trying to tell me something in an indirect way? Feel free to say whatever you want. I feel I’ve known you for a long time man. I hope that goes both ways.
3:11pm September 24th
I am a nice guy indeed . And yes it is very mutual. I am not sure about us thinking in similar ways though. But yes I feel as if I’ve known you for a long time.
3:21pm September 24th
Generally we feel connected to those with whom we are able to communicate, thus the illusion of common interests and the possibility of thinking alike. I don’t think anybody thinks the way I do; I’m insane you know. Ha-ha.
3:40pm September 24th
Insanity is the elicit edge of personality; so I’ll rejoice in your dementedness.
5:51pm September 24th
Tell me things; anything about you.
8:23pm September 24th
As you might have noticed from my Facebook, I was born on the 3rd of June 1977 this makes me a thirty year old Gemini. Believe me when I say that I have all the psychosis my star sign; my bipolar moods in particular. I am the eternal student; I can’t get enough; a book worm. I’m the new Marco Polo who just can not resist a road trip. Adventures race my blood cells in my veins.
Politically I am a patriotic leftist. I have volunteered with different human rights organizations in Lebanon. I was involved in HIV awareness projects among marginalized minorities.
I feel so numb these days. I am passing through a rough patch; one of the worst in my life. I feel really down and always worried. I admitting it mean that what is going on is extremely serious.
Is your curiosity satisfied yet?
9:09pm September 24th
Well, the more you tell me the better I know you and the more I’ll open up. I was born on the 29th of July 1977 this make me a Leo. I’m a good listener; only opinionated when asked about what I think. I’m not stubborn and I adapt to different situations easily.
I’m not a snob, I just look like one. Ha-ha. I’m not as vain as you might think but I like to look good and dress well. I admire those who are able to look beyond my appearance. But sometimes I enjoy a compliment. Ha-ha. I could be funny but only with the right company, if not I could be quiet; very quiet; I’m shy by nature but trying to change this. I’m trying to open up more. You might have noticed that when we met. I live alone; I like my own space.
What happened this year, within a three month period, changed me. I’ve been through a lot. I don’t think anybody would have coped the way I did. I’m still not in a good form but I feel much better. I lost a lot of weight and am constantly depressed. I am almost back on track, not completely as strong as I used to be though but as they say “if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger”
To be honest the day you called, when you were in Ireland, was one of the worst days in my life; not because you called though, ha-ha. Something awful had befallen that day.
9:22pm September 24th
Whatever information I am sharing with you here is not to be shared with anyone else. I am going to remove you off my limited profile so that you can see other sides of me. Do you know that Narjis was the last girl I was with? Lucky for her I realized that I am gay before things got more serious (lol). She was not the reason behind me turning gay though (lol). I did not come out to her and I would appreciate it if it stays that way. I want to know more. What happened within those three months? What is the thing that you were not able to cope with? What happened, the day I called you, to stop you from meeting me?
If you only know what happened to me that day I called you.
I will be waiting for your reply; something to add to my endless world of waiting.
25th of September 2008, I took my last Truvada pill. A sharp bolt of pain cut through my tooth. I gently sheltered the empty bottle in my palms. I waited for his reply, for his reaction to me coming out to him. I waited for answers; for the flutter of a butterfly’s wing in his world that ultimately caused a typhoon in mine.
“Post Exposure Prophylaxis” said the nurse in Saint James Hospital in Dublin. “The morning pill, one pill a day for a month” she elaborated.
Time ticked. I waited. The month is over. I did not throw the bottle away. 2010, I still have it. I’ve kept it for three years. It’s here now. It’s facing me on my desk while writing this; the white bottle with yellow lines. The ink, by which my name and the date of prescription were typed, is fading. It is fading as slow as all those memories of what happened that year. It is fading; really fading. That is why I am writing, for me to remember and for you to know.
I logged on to Facebook. “You have one new message” it read.
– Contributed by Gitanes Blondes