We’ve completed the final rite of Lebanese passage: we’ve left Lebanon. It is, after all, a country of goodbyes, of ping pong expats, of exiles longing to return and of people trying to leave. You could even say we’ve now joined the majority of Lebanese people in that we no longer live in Lebanon.
So we squeezed our life into a couple of suitcases and said goodbye to what didn’t fit. So long, pink shoes which would still have been trendy next year. So long, good friends we will remember a lifetime.
But where to go? Moving nearer family is one thing, but they are spread across Europe anyway so there are still a few different options. Britain, where I grew up, seems pretty foreign after nearly 12 years away. France, where I studied and worked and married would be a more obvious choice. I’m much more used to the euro than the pound, the sécu than the NHS. I kind of know how things work there, which is more than I can say about my “home country”.
But Paris, our “home” before Beirut, isn’t a great option for a growing family, with its tiny flats and creaky parquet. So we’ve been scouting out a pleasant corner of southern Spain before heading back to France for the birth. It’s not Beirut, but the avenues are lined with the gentle purple blossoms of the jacaranda trees I grew to love in Lebanon, and the parks are full of the giant leaves fallen from rubber trees that my Beirut baby grew up playing ba’oussé behind. Somehow these touches make it feel more like home.