I’ve been back in Beirut for less than 10 hours. I’ve been doing laundry all day, emptying suitcases, cleaning up things, and taking care of all kinds of chores (fixing the bathroom sink, the ceiling light in the hallway, the lines of the laundry rack on the balcony) that have been on my list for at least 4 months now, but that I have been able to ignore very conveniently. This city drains energy like nothing else, and I notice that especially when I’ve been away for some days. A stay abroad always creates heightened energy levels with me.
And finally, after a day of hard work, the dog announces he wants to be walked. It is dark outside, so no need to dress ‘up’, put on make-up or appear otherwise decent; the street lights are out anyway and no one will see me in the dark. I might run into someone in the elevator, but I’ll take my chances. I wear an old sweater, and I’m a bit smelly, but a bit of perfume will take care of that.
And so, as I walk with my dog, I pass a young man. It is dark, so I cannot see him all too well, but he appears to be in his twenties.
“Excuse me, this may be a weird question, but what cologne are you using?”
I swear, that’s what he said. He used the word ‘cologne’. I would have gone for the term ‘perfume’.
Now I’ve been in Holland for ten days, and I tell you, we Dutch don’t have ‘that’. I don’t know what ‘that’ exactly is, but they have ‘it’ in Beirut. That ‘knack for things’. That awareness.
Nothing goes by unnoticed.
Now let's see if I can find out where my Christmas cards went.
It was Kenzo, by the way.