Flashback Friday (in lieu of Throwback Thursday)

I wrote this poem after my first month in Beirut. Still in love with that place.

 

I didn’t expect

to fall

so in love

with every

heavy moment,

every late night house party,

every boy

at every late night house party

who I stare at with Almaza eyes

thinking of the ways

he reminds me

of you

I didn’t expect

to feel

so wanted here

and here I go again

falling in love with those brown,

dirty children

who spend their time

at the corniche

trying to shine my

tennis shoes,

the hijabi girls

drinking beer

with their boyfriends,

the taxi drivers

who never stop

honking their horns

at red lights

I don’t know how

to explain this fullness

in the tiny space

a postcard provides,

but I’m not so sure

you want me to try

so here

for the last time

I’ll tell you

that the sea blends perfectly

into the sky

and the mountain snow

is just cold enough

to give me a brain freeze,

the bombs are quiet,

the streets are loud

I write to you because

even here

it’s all I know how to do

 

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Crumbling

Check out this writing/photo collaboration between me and my soul sister, Crystal Ward. I’m in love with creative hearts and deep, dark inspirations.

This is a collaboration between Elizabeth Endara (writer) and Crystal Ward (photographer).

______________________________

Across from the post office and down the street from the bus station, there’s an abandoned wine factory. It’s a crumbling building filled with trash. During the war, it was used as a sort of base for Serbian forces. The reports from those days say things like “the Serbian police opened fire from their position near the wine cellar.” The headlines present the situation as “volatile.” Only we, here in the present, know how volatile it truly was. A few steps from the wine factory is a memorial for the dozens of civilians who lived and died in this small town. Too many of them innocents, too many of them children. But the wine factory stands, itself a memorial of the past, yet it has lived to see today.

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The factory now sits alone behind overgrown bushes…

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On Fridays We Write Fiction

So I’ve made up my mind to write more. I have this great book by Brian Kiteley called The 3 A.M. Epiphany. We used it in one of my undergrad classes. It has writing prompts for flash fiction pieces. And so my new goal is to write Flash Fiction every Friday. The alliteration just gets me.

This week’s writing prompt was to write a first person narrative (around 600 words) using first person pronouns only twice. Blah. Here it is. Ok.

Parades

Walking, walking, walking down a Pittsburgh sidewalk, soaking wet, with a suitcase. It was raining. Actually it was a rainstorm weeping from the clouds onto the treetops, so by the time it got to the ground it was mixed with wind and leaves. Walking down the sidewalk became a whirlwind. His apartment wasn’t hard to find, but there was no rush, though there should have been.

I decided to stop in the suddenly formed crowd to watch the parade. That’s right, there was a Hindu parade coming down the street in a whirlwind rainstorm. It was like something out of a wine-drunk dream. There were even three elephants painted with pink and green and purple, though the color was now dripping off of them. Where do people get elephants for parades? Do zoos just let people borrow elephants for the day?

There had to be thousands of people there. It was so loud and musical and dirty. It felt like stepping into an overly stereotyped Bollywood film or something. It would have been a really colorful and beautiful thing to see if it wasn’t raining on the parade. Every color on the faces, elephants, banners were all muted and mixed with gray and brown. Little girls skipped through the puddles with yellow-gray flowers hanging from their necks. Behind them came men carrying one of those chair-throne things with poles attached to it. There was an old man sitting in it. He looked reasonably small, so hopefully he wasn’t too heavy to carry. He was probably the guru. He had a white beard and wore a turban with orange flowers wrapped around it. It was pretty incredible to see, though it would have made a better picture if he had been riding the elephant. He was smiling and laughing as rain soaked his face and leaves stuck in his beard. Gurus laugh? Apparently gurus really like the rain. In fact, no one in the parade or the crowd seemed to even notice that it was pouring. They acted as if it wasn’t practically tornadoing all around them, and everyone had been drenched. The street was a muddied, colorful river with flowers and trash being carried away by the current. Behind the Guru came the three elephants. No one was riding them, but some boys dressed in orange were leading them. With every big elephant step they took, more of the colors ran down their gray skin. It seemed surprising that no one was afraid of them. Children were skipping and dancing right next to their big elephant feet, oblivious even to the idea of being trampled. As the elephants passed, the crowd folded into the street and followed them, dancing and smiling and throwing flowers around like confetti. The crowd became the finale of the parade as they splashed through the street-turned-river. All the colors washed themselves away down the road.

The rain was letting up a little. His apartment was directly across the now cleared street. He would come down at the sound of the bell. He would hug the way he always does, one arm on top, one arm on bottom. There would be something in his eyes to ignore. His apartment would be cold. Conversation would be exhausting. It would sometimes seem like a waste of time. It sometimes would be.

But there was no rush. The inevitable could be prolonged. So I didn’t cross the street just yet, because guess what? Another parade was coming in the whirlwind rain. And this time there were zebras.

The Goods

Ah yes, moving again. I have been beautifully happy, and my writing gets worse when I’m happy. But I’ll find my way eventually.

I haven’t had many words lately to say or write. I’ve used them all up thinking. Right now I am overthinking the word ‘good.’

Lots of things can be good. People are good, but sometimes they aren’t. It’s a good year, or it’s not. That’s a good picture of you, never a good picture of me. You were good to me when I wasn’t good to you. Broccoli is good for you. You are a good writer. A good student. A good friend. Goodness. I think goodful should be a word, full of good. You are so goodful. I had such a good time. I’m doing good (well). Why does ‘bye’ get a ‘good’ in front of it but ‘hello’ doesn’t. Goodhello, everyone. Or what if you sad badbye instead of goodbye?

I’ve thought about it for too long so now it doesn’t sound like a word any more. It’s just a noise I can make with my mouth.

But I will make that noise again for you. You all are the goodest. And here are good pictures of just a few of you goodful humans, but there are so many more of you whom I wish heaps of goodness upon. I hate to say badbye, but you have made everything so much gooder.

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The Where

She’s tired from the moving. It’s one of those things where her body is just like, “what are you doing to me? Find a place to rest other than an airplane.” And she just responds with, “I can’t hear you.” Her leaps of faith cross timezones and people say, “wow, you’re brave. You’re adventurous. You’re life is amazing.” But really she just feels like a girl who’s going to great lengths to find a place where she fits. No luck so far. She’s tired of talking about herself, of the sound of her own voice. She’s hears herself say, “hi my name is _______.” And it makes her cringe. There’s a cloud somewhere with her name on it. It will take her any where she wants to go for free. And it won’t ask her her name. And she won’t need a passport.

She’s not a traveler. She’s a dweller of coffee shops. A collector of coins. A grocery shopper who takes an airplane for the best breads. You can’t fall in love in a week. You can’t really know in a month. You can’t be an expert in a year. It takes a lifetime. But it’s hard to commit to a lifetime.

There are not walls in he middle of your path, there are forests. And often, the only way to go is up, so you climb the tree and see what’s at the top, and you just sit there because you have time. It’s then, that God meets you. But it’s not just then. It’s before that too, when you’re at the bottom of the tree looking up. And it’s also after, when you’re sitting tired at a broken desk left on the side of the road and you’re trying to write, but you don’t have a single word left to say. I once wrote about words dripping from my fingertips and leaving puddles on the surfaces they touched. What a gift it has been to be heartbroken. Everyday ending with a poem. God filled the cracks and crevices and made you feel everything deeper. What happens when you go numb? Where do the words go? What makes your fingers dry up?

I’m waiting by the side of my path for the words to come. But even if they do not, the waiting is worth it. Because God will meet me here when my fingers go numb. And he will be closer than I realized. And He will remind me quietly that love is better than a recited dictionary.

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Photo by Mary Claire Photography

Here In Between

Oh my life, my love, can you hear me?

Here’s the part of my life where I sit and watch my dreams change. I sat on the ledge of some cliff on some hill in some village in Lebanon and I could see it. The clouds rolling in over the hills, coming from the sea covering Beirut. It moved and moved and moved closer until I was in it and I could no longer see the view. The cloud seeped into me. Into the ever deepening cracks of my skin. And it was bitterly cold.

In Jordan I found that this was ok. It’s ok for me to not be who I thought I was. It’s ok for me to hurt. It’s ok for me to be lost on the right path. It’s ok to be alone but not really alone. Sometimes the adventure is the pain. Am I young enough to start again? Of course. I will always be young enough to start again. I am a jar of river water that has been shaken and shaken and shaken and instead of ceasing and letting the dirt settle, I have just been shaken again. Is it ok to stop? I need someone’s permission. Yet I know that within my heart is a brick home next to a river. There is space there. Space to create, to breathe, to rest. I need to find my way back there, even if it means turning around. Is it ok if I go there and just sit a while?

 

 

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A moment

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago:

Things are never the way you expect them to be. Nothing looks the way you painted it in your mind. In my picture of Beirut, I didn’t imagine a Syrian refugee next to an American Eagle next to a Lebanese restaurant next to a grocery store that sells Kroger brand peanut butter and Labneh. I didn’t expect taxis to be louder than bombs. This isn’t a place you fall in love with, this is a place you give your mind to. You let the city run through the grooves of your brain and you overthink it. There may or may not be answers here, but there are definitely pathways. So grab the handles of you bicycle and pick a road. Maybe you’ll end up somewhere new, or maybe the road is a circle back to where you started, but don’t let your busy mind build any walls. Your hands are your own. Let them search and don’t be scared of what they find. But know it won’t be what you expect. Love will come, but it won’t come easily.

 

think

“You can bury your past in the garden by the tulips

water it till it is so alive it lets you go,

and you belong to yourself again.

When you belong to yourself again

remember forgiveness is not a tidy grave.

It is a ready loyal knight kneeling before your royal heart.

Call in your royal heart.

Tell it bravery can never be measured by a lack of fear.

It takes guts to tremble.

It takes so much tremble to love.”

-A Gibson