Adonis Diaries

Numb at the Magnitude of the Unknown

Posted on: June 18, 2016

Numb at the Magnitude of the Unknown (Part 1, June, 2004)

It was May of 1975.  I had just graduated in Physics from the Lebanese university.

I secured a student visa to the United States of America.

I was to study English for the summer at a university in Oklahoma.

 

I did not know then that there was more than one university there.

The trip was not that urgent but the civil war in Lebanon started to look serious.

My inborn stubbornness clenched the deal and off I left.

 

It was my first trip away from family and home.

I learned later that my mother played the fundamental role

Of convincing my father that it is time that I learn to be on my own.

 

My mother told me that, the night I flew away my father cried his eyes out in his bed.

My father offered me $5,000.

Two Lebanese pounds at the time was worth one dollar.

(Now, a single dollar is worth 1,500 LP)

 

I stayed in Paris for a couple of weeks visiting a student relative of mine.

At the airport, no one searched me.

But before I exited, an agent asked to search my luggage.

I had to rearrange everything her and there.

Even then, France pinpointed specific passengers to be searched.

 

My cousin Nassif happened to be vacationing in England with a girlfriend.

I met my friends Ghassan and Moussa

Who helped me rent a room where they stayed at a university complex for foreign students.

 

I toured Paris alone in metro and mostly on foot.

Paris was gorgeous.

Breakfasts were delicious at the university low-ceiling breakfast restaurant .

The was another restaurant for lunch and dinner

Breakfast was the time to see all the various international students.

The smell of fresh coffee, milk, bacon, eggs and fresh bread was appetizing.

The buffet was scattered with many varieties of fruits and drinks.

( I still dream of waking up to such a breakfast environment)

 

I landed first at New York at La Guardia airport.

We were flying over the Oklahoma Territory

Twenty two hours after leaving Paris.

We still had one hour to land.

 

It was pitched dark outside and I might have been feeling cold in the plane.

One stewardess might have realized my haggard quietness.

An angel, no more than twenty years old,

Blonde, blue eyed, beautiful with a refreshing smile,

And compassion transparent in her welcoming face.

She brought me a blanket without any request on my part

And suggested to brink me some orange juice.

 

I felt then that it is okay to live in America and to know Americans.

I wished I told her that I was scared, terrified, and

Numb at the magnitude of the unknown

Waiting for me.

 

I wished I told her that I needed to throw myself at her mercy and be helped.

I was lacking conversational skills and lacking practice in English.

I was not basically a social guy, though I enjoyed being among crowds.

Friends suffered me on account of my quietness:

I painfully resigned myself to the aura of bookish knowledge.

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adonis49

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