Saturday, January 18, 2014

Country of men

Inspired by this article by Yara Zgheib, adding a little bit to it.

I have been avoiding to write about this so I don't feel, because when I do, it will make these thoughts real. 

As a Lebanese expat, you don't leave because you want to. You don't leave because the world is out there and opportunities are waiting to be explored by you, you leave because you feel that whatever mass is around you is increasing in size, leaving you with no space to exist and pushing you out to the Mediterranean sea. 

You find yourself contradicting a famous phrase you always repeated to everyone who knew you: "I am not one of those people who leave Lebanon". 

On a subconscious level, you find yourself applying for that job that you hope you don't get interviewed for. And when you do, you hope you don't get accepted. And when you do, you hope they give you a bad offer.

I will never forget mom's words in January 2012 when I made the trip for my interviews: "You're just going for the interviews, right? You're not going to take the job and live there, right?"

I answered with such certainty that day: "Of course I won't mom!"

Two years later, mom's words to me changed. Every time I tell her I am thinking of returning to Lebanon, she says with no regret: "There is nothing for you here, go build yourself a future."

This article "Mal de vous, papi, mamy", which had probably the same impression of every Lebanese living abroad, is exactly what I would say, from A to Z.

"Men, not walls, make a city."

My Lebanon is my mom, my niece, my nephews, my brothers, my family and my friends. 

God knows how hard that trip back to the airport is, every single time. It does not get easier. You feel like there is a hand inside your chest that keeps pressing on your heart, and it keeps pressing till you feel the pain spill out of your mouth in the form of words, words like: "I don't want to leave."

Every time an explosion takes place in one area or another in Lebanon, I wonder how unfair it is for my 33 months old niece to grow up in such an environment. A place where it teaches you to respond to this question: "Let's do something next Saturday?" with this answer: "If we're still alive." I want her to be able to have a vision.

Living abroad and meeting people from different countries made me realize their ability to plan for years ahead, while I don't even know where I will be six months from now. 

I am not saying, leave and never return, I am just saying, if you can leave, then do. It will hurt, the pain will never go away, and this is where you choose which way you want your life to go forward, depending on the priorities you choose. But I promise you, good feelings will come to you as well.

Edited: It's true that I will never feel like a local in the countries I live in, but I am grateful and thankful for the two cities I lived in so far, Dublin and Dubai. There is a lot of learning there. Every city you live in, teaches you something new about yourself. An experience which I know a lot of you will appreciate and cherish. 


  1. I'm glad you wrote that article Liliane. And I hope your niece one day gets the life she and we all deserve.


    1. Hope so too. And thank you Yara for inspiring me to write again :) (at least this once)

  2. Sadly I'm not one of those expats that miss Lebanon. A trip 'home' is more of a chore. I've made my home in the countries I live in knowing that there is permanence and the ability out your dreams instead of just, well, dream.