Why Do You Stay?

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Jounieh Bay, Sept 2012

A friend’s status on Facebook said “What’s keeping me here, I don’t even know” Given recent events, a lot of us are asking ourselves the same understandable question. I know how difficult it can be to live in Lebanon but I know that many people abroad would prefer to be here if circumstances were better. Regardless of where you are right now, I thought I’d write down a few reasons why the collective “you” stay or wish you could.

Why do you stay?

You stay because of your family,
you can’t abandon them selfishly.
You stay because of your job,
you can’t just expect a good opportunity to pop up wherever you go.
You stay because you don’t have a visa,
you don’t have the freedom to just book a ticket for any destination.
You stay because you just bought a car,
you’ve invested in something that is rooted here and it’s yours.
You stay because your Teta is getting older,
you can’t leave when you don’t know how much longer she’ll be around.
You stay because you’re relatively broke,
you can’t afford the living expenses abroad.

No.

Maybe you stay because you want to.
Because your clothes and hair smell like coal after mashewe in June.
Because of the taste of leftover manoushe heated on the soubiyya in January.
Because there’s a lost week of summer that makes an appearance in October.
Because of multicolored plaid patchwork in the plains of the Bekaa in April.
Because of Bliss House Chocolat Mou during the power-cuts of August.
Because of the color of the Jounieh Bay’s waters during September.
Because of chilled janerek rolled in salt in May.
Because of nostalgic reunions thanks to international vacation schedules overlapping during December.
Because the acoustics of the Byblos Port create musical synchronicity with the sea waves in July.
Because of Uncle Deek Nescafe in the car during kazdouras in February.
Because of the sun-rays bouncing on the Mediterranean in the middle of November.
Because of the crunching sound of the melting snow on asphalt in the middle of March.
Because you want to see Lebanon rise not like a phoenix, but like a dragon that will breathe fire not become it.
Because you want to raise your children in the country where they are a part of her soil and stone because you helped save her.
Because you want to call this place home.

Why do you stay?
You stay because you want to.

[mashewe: BBQ/grilled meats, soubiyya: old-fashioned heater, janerek: green plums, kazdoura: cruise in the car]

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24 thoughts on “Why Do You Stay?

  1. This is nice. But the the use of the word “stay” implies that those who go abroad have “left” – they did not “stay”.

    This notion among so many of our friends and family back home is so wrong. Many of us who are abroad are more present and involved and aware of what’s happening in Lebanon than a great deal of Lebanese living there. We are abroad but we stayed. That’s why we return – always.

    • I don’t mean to say that at all or follow that notion – if anything, it is more heartwrenching to be away from a place and people while they face problems.

      I think you put it quite beautifully actually: “We are abroad but we stayed. That’s why we return- always.”

  2. Great piece, thoroughly enjoyed it. As someone who chose to leave, it evoked a lot of emotions and vivid memories. Thank you

  3. So i really really like this, but you have to remember that those will always be good memories. However, you can build new ones and amazing habits that might be as exciting or as addicting as the above. I love and miss all what you have mentioned, but most of them are replaceable ( or even similar if not the same as things we have abroad) if you look at the positives of living somewhere else, but only if “you want to” as you mentioned πŸ™‚

    Good little read! Thank you for the reminders of what I miss, but not the reasons that I left.

    • Jad! Wallaw, ultimately home is wherever you make it and very dependent on who you make it with.

      I’m not saying you can’t create something great outside of our little country, I’m just appreciating the things that make it home for me.

      Do visit soon!

  4. Great read!

    Family – Check
    Job – Check
    Don’t have a visa – Check
    Just bought a car – Check
    Teta is getting really old – Check
    Relatively broke – Check

    Do I stay because I also want to? – Check
    The details there probably differ from person to person but I can still relate to most.

    You basically just wrote a blog about my life.

  5. Laziza Jeddan…i just had a tasty man2ousheh from the feren below the office…and got to work faster then usual cuz ma fi schools, ta2ess is summery am planning to go to beach tomorrow, bekaa in the weekend…and i am one of those who decided to fight and stay…i dont even have a job, i have my own business and it’s becoming a bit difficult to survive but we will…so i chose to stay πŸ™‚

  6. Good article. The reality is that people stay for the first group of reasons . It’s is not the manouche or the chilled jenerek that makes people stay. People are entitled to good and safe life away from hatred, prejudice, class struggle, corrupt politicians, ta2fieh, and 20 other reasons that made me leave, and I do not feel guilty about it at all. God bless you ya Farrah, your heart is probably in the right place, but logic says otherwise.

    • It is true that there are a lot of valid reasons for leaving – otherwise we wouldn’t have so many people doing so. However, I wish that those who did decide to stay (or are here regardless of whether they truly want to be) would work towards making the country better instead of complaining about how bad it is and stopping there. The only way it is going to improve is if we DO something about it; it won’t happen on it’s own. While you are here, you might as well try to make a difference.

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