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Friday, August 25, 2017

To Be In Destiny

It had been more than a year now since she’d first walked down the cobbled sidewalk to the cafeteria that first morning. Hesitant, she’d been unsure what she would find when she stepped into this world that seemed so foreign and so familiar at the same time. The memories had faded with time; would they suddenly burst into 3D colour? The tired streets were so much more crowded now than before—cars elbowing their way to get into that tiny inch of space they’d seen between a taxi and a camouflage green military tank. This was the life she would soon become accustomed to.

Taxis everywhere, though you wouldn’t know if you just looked at the top of the car because taxis in Lebanon weren’t painted in the customary yellow and white or black pattern found in New York, for example. They weren’t a certain model of car, like the old Beetle style found in London. Sometimes they had a yellow or white rectangular sign on their roof, if they belonged to a company. More often, though, they were only recognizable by their dull red license plate. The military trucks were comforting yet unsettling at the same time. She was never quite sure whether to be thankful they were there to protect her or worried that someone would suddenly start shooting one of those heavy duty machine guns mounted on the top of the tank.

This was just one aspect of life in a war-torn country that was struggling to rebuild itself in glass. She was amazed every time she managed to slip off the campus and take a drive downtown where the multitude of crystal skyscrapers seemed to mushroom overnight. It was a sure sign the builders were confident there would be no more wars. If not, they would have built in sturdy brick and gray cement. Instead, the city sparkled in the noonday sun with a promise of hope and a twinkle of return to the Switzerland of the Middle East it had once been known as. She decided that if the country, who had been through 7 wars and rebuilt itself each time, could be certain of its destiny then she could also be sure.

It was here that she returned to in search of that elusive word. Destiny. Was it really as formidable as it sounded? Was it something already decided or could she decide? She had spent 17 years stuck in a feeling that she couldn’t walk another path. Then, in a few short months, she found herself where she had once thought her happiness had ended. When she’d left as a teenager, the joy had sunk deep down into a darkness that seemed to cloud every memory she’d had. She couldn’t put herself back into the photos—they had already cut her father out of each one. Just as he was deleted from memory, her memories hid behind the merciful curtain of time.

Now she sat on one of the benches lining that cobbled sidewalk, her students scattered on the grass, diligently working on their creative writing project. The luxurious winter sun warming her face, the cold cement bench, and spring bird song mixing with city buzz made her smile. The memories once buried were now surrounded by explosive sensory moments wrapping her in new dreams for a destiny still to be seen. It was enough to be here. That was all she knew.

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