Friday, January 05, 2007

Where I was once a child

When I lived in New Orleans, I had a boyfriend who had grown up there. We used to take walks through this incredible city with so much history and a sense of past. As we walked on its cobble stoned streets where on a summer evening the humidity is still nearly graspable in the air and the streets are often enveloped in a humid fog, and as we passed its architectural uniquenesses, he would tell me about the time he fell off his bicycle on this spot or how he had engaged in adolescent mischief in that cemetary...

I always wished I could do the same and visit the spot where I scraped my knee when I fell off my skateboard, where I would play with barbies in bushes or grasses around my house, or where my friends and I built a road block in the mountains and the young Kataeb guy came and fired his gun in the air…

I am finally doing it and am sharing with you a glimpse of my past.

The staircase at Mansour's house

I can almost hear the plate breaking on the concrete the moment after my mother had her stroke.

El Aain: the spring or fountain (I am not sure which)

We used to get water from here when we didn’t have any.

My school: L'Ecole des Soeurs Antonine, commonly known as Mardoumet

We wore these ugly orangish brown uniforms and would stand in line in the concrete area used for recess right behind this black gate. Standing in line requires standing by grade level from the shortest to the tallest with your right arm spread out and touching the shoulder of the person in front of you, an arm's length behind. I remember an all school presentation where Pascale and I prepared some ballet and I also did a yoga wheel for the first time.

There are now Phalange party signs hanging against the metal fence of the playground.

Jihad 's little store
I had forgotten Jihad's name and I had to be reminded quite a few times before it once again stuck in my memory. While I am being confronted with all my memories, I am also being confronted with all that I don’t remember such as giving Mansour a skateboard. And Cynthia, who even remembers me falling off my skateboard. Chewbaca and Great Adventure. Is this because memory is tied to place and I did not have the luxury of being in the place in which or with the people with whom the memories took place?

Sometimes the only way I remember is by people telling me or through photographs. Pascale has pictures of the two of us at Great Adventure in the States. She also has pictures of us doing Grease Lightening at her birthday party, at the mountains skiing with Cynthia, and dressed up for Halloween in one coat. I do not remember any of this.

The neighborhood. The building in the distance was where we lived, in the Hilani's building. The Greek Orthodox church still watches up on the top of the hill, even though the steeple you see is a completely new one. During the war, its bell would warn us of trouble.

I took a little walk around with my camera. Mansour’s mom introduced me to everyone saying that I once lived there. One older woman remembered.

The Hilani's building is on the left. One of the hills we used to climb is in the background. There are a few houses on it now, but still it is not as built up as other parts of the mountains.


Carol Gee said...

Margaret, you are generous to share your little kid-self's experiences. I would never, ever, have gotten to make this trip. Thanks for taking all of us along. Stay safe.

M.T. said...

Dear Margaret

This is the first chance I had to look at your blog. I am so glad you made the trip. I admire your courage and curiousity... so wonderful that you are writing about your experiences.

Stay safe.


Margaret said...

It is great to hear from you. I am glad that you had a chance to read my blog. I am so glad you are in my life. You and Evelyne are the two former profs now friends that have most inspired me and that have followed me on my journeys.

Margaret said...

Carol Gee,
Thanks for following my stories. It means so much to me that a person that I have never met found my blog and finds meaning in it. You are taking the trip. You are taking it with me!
By the way, where are you from in Texas?

Fay said...

You said "El Aain: the spring or fountain (I am not sure which)"
I am sure only of the meaning of spring in Arabic which is equivalent of Nabeaa - I am a native speaker of Arabic. Perhaps Ain is intended to designate the place where water flows (both spring and fountain, but the fountain with a jet of water is nafoura)

Margaret said...

Perhaps it merely means eye? The eye of the fountain? I just looked it up in my Arabic dictionary. I wish I knew how to type Arabic letters on here. Thanks for all your comments. I really appreciate your perspective and knowledge.