When author, poet, and painter Gibran Khalil Gibran wrote about his Lebanon at the age of thirty-seven, he had been in exile for twelve years. The country he knew was probably long gone, though of coure, he would never find that out; he only returned to his native village, Becharre, to be buried there in 1931.
During a recent visit to Lebanon, walking along Hamra Street, I was taken back to my childhood. My father and I meandered down this road en route to my favorite spot. Constantly stopped by friends, eager to talk, it seemed to take forever to reach the Modca Cafe, and the ice cream I so eagerly anticipated.
Driving through the center of Beirut, striped curtains luff over apartment balconies. Churches and mosques are backlit by a gauzy sea. The carcass of a bombed building sits beside a beach club with bathers and music playing. The Lebanese have an exuberant spirit, endless courses of food at the restaurants, and at night, fireworks and gunshots in the air.