Oh, Beirut! Oh, Lebanon! Beirut, Lebanon has become our home over these past two years, and a home is never easy to leave behind. We leave not just an apartment, but a home that became a reflection of our time here in the Middle East. No longer will Tarek, the clerk at Calimera market where we would stop on our way home to buy food items, greet us with “Marhaba. Kifak?”.
The call to prayer from the mosque on the Corniche will never again greet us in the morning, afternoon and evenings. Rides to school with Mohamed in his junky Mercedes as he runs red lights, like most Beirutis, are now a thing of the past. We hope to be able to recreate zaatar manouches at home, but it won’t be the same as purchasing them with the point of a finger at the corner manouche stand. The Marina is a nice place for a drink in Brattleboro, but meaning no offense, it is not the same as sitting on the Mediterranean as the sun goes down and we sip cold Almaza’s and eat moutabal after a long week at work.
Saying goodbye to Wajiha, our Palestinian cook was especially difficult. No more ten dollar haircuts from my friendly neighborhood barbers. And while work was grueling and so difficult at times, this is where we got to know and befriend people of Muslim faith, residents of Lebanon, and citizens from many countries. Greeting Mohamad and Karim, Ona and Ola, Hassan and Ali in the morning is no longer part of my daily routine.
Byblos, Tyre, Baalbeck, Saida, Baalbeck, the Beeka Valley, Qadisha Valley, the Choufs, the old Damascus road into the mountains and now memories and some beautiful pictures.s
The closing of one chapter of life also means a new chapter begins. The next chapter will be even more of an adventure and will certainly last longer. We are not going back to the same old, same old, but will soon be holding our first grandchild. What could be better than this! We also go back to begin retirement, or as much of it as we want, which should work well with the grandchild beckoning us to Washington D.C. regularly.
I would be more than remiss if I did not say how much I owe my life partner and love of my life Sharon who came to Beirut a bit reluctantly and bore the worst of the work load at ACS. We had our ups and downs, but she hung in there and for that I will be eternally grateful.
So, life goes on in its endless cycle of change. Off to grandparenthood and retirement we go.