Last Seen: mourning seashells
“She sells seashells by the seashore. If she sells seashells by the seashore, where are the seashells she sells by the seashore? ”
Ramlet el Baida: just like a tongue twister, is designed to be difficult (for us) to articulate, and is (currently) relied on for personal and private amusement values.
We grow in and into a city we live in. The city becomes us, and we become our city. But then our city gets taken apart to bits and pieces until they begin to disappear. And then it feels like you are continuously chasing after loose ends that just don’t seem to fit, until you can’t figure out how to put the puzzle back together and you break – eventually you forget the full picture ever even existed.
For years my mind and heart have been at a war trying to wrap my brain around our lack of public spaces. Do we really lack them or are they just not accessible to us? Do we make enough use of what we have? And when we do decide to embrace them – is it too late?
With the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar coming to an end, I wanted to share one of my favorite iftars with you on the beautiful shore of Ramlet El Baida. Only a week before the stairs leading down to the shore were demolished, my friends and I were lucky enough to enjoy a million-dollar sunset backdrop. We rented a table and chairs for 8000LBP, brought our food with us – and enjoyed what was a very rare and true moment of embracing the public space that we had. The shore was lit, comfortable, clean, and safe (nobody confronted us, except for a 3 year old that came to ask for a balloon).
For those four hours we were mesmerized by the view, pushing away the tinge of regret that we have had this so close to our homes but rarely have used it. Forgetting where we were and about the city behind us (that now felt so far away); we stared out at the bursting colors of the horizon watching them fade into shades of grey lit by the bright moonlight.
As beautiful as our night was and now that our rose colored glasses have come off, it’s painful to think that it could have been our last time. Yes, the odds may seem to have been against us but let’s not undermine our roles. Doing nothing does more damage than good. I’m not ready to succumb to hopelessness just yet, so join me in my mission to take advantage of our beautiful city before it’s too late and let’s channel this frustration into creative energy.
*Iftar: (or Fatoor) (Arabic: إفطار ʾifṭār ‘breakfast’) is the evening meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset.