THE LEAVING BEIRUT SERIES Part 6: How to Remember

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Things I’ve learned this weekend: be the first one to leave. The last 36 hours was like this hot slow nightmare where you’re saying goodbye to all your best friends and every time you start recover and pick yourself up off the floor, someone else rings your doorbell and the whole horrid process starts itself over again. In honor of that, here’s a list of things that suck. As in the only thing you think of when you hear them is THAT SUCKS.

  1. Goodbyes
  2. Breakups
  3. Car Accidents
  4. Debt

But before we go, we’re going to remember for just a little bit cause it’s 4AM and I’m currently on a plane to Athens and I think my tears are starting to weird out the nice and sleepy Swedish couple next to me.

I’ve spent the last week and a half simultaneously cataloging all the reasons to leave and all the things I’ll miss with my whole heart. I want to remember it the way it was, with the good all smashed up next to the bad. The overflowing garbage cans (cause the dump is full & the garbage men are on strike) next to the Mediterranean and the evenings walking through the streets laughing next to the moments you didn’t think you would make it to the end. The taxi driver turning to the American radio station when you get in and traffic that seems impossible. Perpetually dirty feet and learning how to smile at strangers instead of be scared of them and finding new places by yourself and getting lost and messing up and doing better.

I like to think one day I’ll write a book and there will be a chapter about the first team I ever led. How I was thrown into this abstract position over seven of the strongest personalities I’ve ever seen up close. And how I spent the next two months learning when to stand back and when to step up, and just watching them be them. How I learned that life is a series of stepping on each others’ toes and helping each other put on band-aids, sometimes you’re fixing your own mistakes and sometime you’re fixing other peoples. And that stepping on toes isn’t always as bad as I thought.

But we made it through without incident and I made it full circle from landing to take off and I’m not sure if I recognize anything else, but I recognize the route to the airport this time around. And I think it’s important that you all know that if you spent even one moment praying for me, praying for us, it was worth it. There were so many moments I watched us be saved. Time and time again I could stop and say, someone prayed for us this morning. And I am so grateful.

For now I’m going to remember everything the way it was the last night. Loudly running through Beirut as if we had ownership or any stake at all in this exhausted messy city. Yelling and holding hands and singing our American songs and drawing attention to ourselves. I spent two months doing everything in my power to learn these people and now they’re gone, and all I have is lists of them in my head and pictures in my phone that I started taking all up close to everyone’s faces because I wanted to remember them exactly how they are. All I have is their likes and dislikes and expressions and opinions and things I’ll miss the most and things they taught me.

And I want to remember Logie walking up behind me in the dark, a question in his body language. “Vicky?” caught red handed. “How bout I pray for you right now?” And I want to remember Shan’s face when she’s thinking through something and the way she asks for advice as if she isn’t the smartest one in the room. And I want to remember Josh slipping side comments to me across the table with a smirk as if he isn’t the funniest person alive.

And this is all out here for everyone to see, but for now if you ask me how my summer was, how Beirut was, how everything was, I’ll probably say Great & Hard & Good. Cause it’s two months of woven memories and learning experiences and it’s more than I can bring out. I think I want to keep the rest to myself for just a little while longer.

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