All Night Long

This night I’m living a Lebanese version of an 1980’s Lionel Richie pop hit.

Travel has gotten me out of my comfort zone- even if it took a long flight and loud drummers to do so.

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I had been awake 28 hours and had been on a plane or in airports for 24 of them.

Sadika says, “You must sleep in tomorrow, as we will be awake all night long from iftar (the sunset meal Muslims break their fast for Ramadan) to sohur, the pre sunrise meal Muslims enjoy before fasting all day.

Major problem, I’m not a night person. I go to bed early and wake up early. Jet lagged how will I get to sleep and how will I stay awake? I’m the houseguest from hell.

Then I start hallucinating. I’m hearing drums banging outside her resort.

“Oh that’s normal” Sadika says. They are just reminding people to wake up for the sohur meal.

I take a sleeping pill and sleep until 11am. I’m never in bed that late. 

Sadika directs me to the beach at her house and I start my Lebanese vacation with a warm swim in the Mediterranean Sea.  I stop for my first shanklish sandwich- an herbaceous yogurt, tomatoe, cucumber, olive combination. Yum, yum and yum.

We then sea some old and modern buildings in Tripoli.

I manage a short nap at Sadika’s son’s house while an Lebanese version of Family Feud plays on the television. I don’t understand a word, but apparently like in the US the host is funny.

We head to Sadika’s daughter’s Rana’s in laws house. Lebanese hospitality is insanely gracious. This is when I would curl up and say goodnight- but the night has just begun.

I tag along with Sadika and her husband, to a gala on an island. Traffic is snarky apparently the Lebanese Minister of Interior was attending. 

There is music and food, lots more food and drums.  Across the bay the skyline of Tripoli lights up.

“One of those guys was in our neighborhood this morning.”

We finish the day, or is it night or morning. I smoke a lemon nargilleh and sip tea with a new friend at a cute tea shop run by Sadika’s son.

The prior Saturday night I was asleep in bed getting ready to wake up early to watch Rafa demolish his opponent at the French Open.

This night I’m living a Lebanese version of an 1980’s Lionel Richie pop hit.

Travel has gotten me out of my comfort zone- even if it took a long flight and loud drummers to do so.

Love Love Lebanon All Night Long!

Finding Love in the Air

I originally started writing this 40,000 feet over the Hudson Bay with about six hours left on the flight to Paris from San Francisco airport, and eleven hours before I landed in Beirut.

The only delay was out Sacramento, but thanks to my fabulous travel agent Robin, who is also my Tech Guy’s wife- I had plenty of time for my connection.

I often fall-asleep during movies, which is why I’ve avoided going to any in a couple of years. I’ve also fallen asleep on dates- and coincidentally I’ve managed to also avoid those too. United has fabulous selection of movies and the three I watched were quite good. 

Since the third was an Indian film, where I was reading subtitles during the early pangs of jetlag, I will focus on the first two.

Spoiler alerts:

Bridget Jones Baby and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel both had common themes of finding love while getting old. 

Bridget Jone’s Baby was basic chick flick chocolate. I will turn 42 during this trip. Do I want baby? Heck to the NO. Babies scare me. I was contemplating buying expensive headphones at the San Francisco airport to avoid listening to the screaming baby on the plane to Paris. Three babies were even crankier and didn’t let me sleep on the four hour trip to Beirut.

I saw my five month old nephew for a family funeral. I held him for twenty seconds, enough for a photo and a near panic attack. I’ll see my him, my younger sister and her husband next month in Portland and my goal is thirty seconds- and also not to drop him.

Marigold Hotel was more dimensional, or I was more analytical. Like Bridget a couple of the main characters were looking for love in an older age, but it also dealt with medical tourism, homosexuality, and cultural biases.

More importantly after travel ing for fifteen hours, Marigold didn’t put me to sleep and I should have been sleepy. According to my phone when it finished it was a few minutes after 9pm in California- not too far from my usual bedtime- and another reason I’m a horrible date.

More spoilers alerts:I would love to find love in my forties, or fifties or sixties if I live that long. Unfortunately aside from my dog, or  rest in peace Hooka, or cat (who dislikes most people and  is probably mad but getting fed and checked on by my neighbor while in on vacation) familial love, or friendship- romantic love seems like fiction- like  Bridget or Marigold. 

I have experienced lust- as I call them to my close girlfriends- dumb crushes. They have ranged in height, age, race.

After a few weeks or months I realize the only thing these guys have in common is their lack of romantic interest in me. Some of these guys I’m still friends with- at least until they read this blog.

Two nights ago I had dinner with my married friend Uzma, who was telling me about her Lebanese friend who after returning to Lebanon, was singing the praises of Lebanese men. 

“Kristi she said, they are so chivalrous, they watch out for her.”

I don’t have the body of the pre-pregnant Renee Zelwigger in the Bridget Jones sequel, and who knows if I will ever survive into my later years to find love at a run-down hotel outside the United States like in Marigold.

But as it approaches my normal 5:30am wake up hour (at least Paris time), and the baby is still screaming, and  I ponder the vegetarian mystery breakfast the flight attendant gave me, this flight was a nice reminder that I can still find romantic love if only at the Movies. Heck this year, Roger Federer won the Australian Open and Rafa Nadal the French Open in their thirties, and tennis nerds kept iterating how old they were, maybe finding romantic love in my forties is not unrealistic.

I can be consoled with at least I found love in the air watching the movies.