Happy Independence Day
On 22nd November Lebanon celebrates its independence. Two years ago today when I was a new arrival in the country and still finding my feet, I wrote the following words:
This morning the roads are closed to make way for the sweeping parade of tanks and soldiers celebrating Lebanon’s Independence Day. We don’t join them but I imagine it. There will be flag waving but no feathers, costumes but no sequins unlike the last parade I went to, a Caribbean Carnival on an English day in May, so far away now.
While others are declaring independence I do the same. I sweep out the covered balcony for the first time, finding a white feather blessing in amongst the dust. I move one of the two small dining tables here from underneath their shared cloth and then two of the four chairs. I sit for a minute, picturing myself here in the mornings when the house is empty, maybe writing. I think about how quickly my centre of gravity shifts. It has only been 10 days and already I am almost perpendicular to myself, leaning on my husband’s shoulders, depending on him to keep me upright.
By the time Independence Day came round in 2012, I had managed to make a new life for myself in Lebanon. But I wasn’t quite upright, spending most of my time reclined, nursing my month-old baby (the other new life I made in Lebanon), struggling to find my independence as a mother after my husband had returned to work and my own mother had flown home to the UK.
And now here we are again. I spend the morning writing and baking and then lunch long into the afternoon with family and friends on our terrace. As I watch my little girl standing upright on her own two feet, in their red slipper socks the colour of the roses, I realise how truly rooted I feel here; how I, like my daughter, have finally found my feet.
Thank you Lebanon, for giving me my independence. Today, and every day, I wish you yours too.