My first trip to Beirut was a few months after the cease fire of '91. I had been dreaming of visiting Beirut since I was a little girl because my mother had been engaged to a Lebanese man whose family showered me with a lot of affection. My father had fallen in love with a Lebanese woman while staying in Beirut performing with the Les Brown Band and he brought me bountiful stories of the Lebanese. I had a best girfriend in my Sophmore year of high school who was Lebanese and I became friends with numerous Lebanese students who had fled the civil war of 1975 while waiting in Los Angeles for the war to end so that they could return to their callings.
I was thrilled to be visiting Beirut in spite of being warned that it was dangerous to do so, but I had a daughter whose DNA was half of the exotic ancient stronghold. The impetus of my visit was to introduce my six month old daughter to her grandparents.
My American family is comprised of Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists so I never defined anyone by their religions. It was a shock for me to witness the disdain I sometimes did while visiting Beirut that one side had for the other.
What Lebanese share is a passion for life and merriment. They make no apologies for their love of beauty and material riches. I found that refreshing in a world rife with false modesty.
With my six month old daughter as a fixture on my hip,and happily so, I reveled in the Mediterranean sea, indulged in the unparalleled Lebanese cuisine and brought home as many beautiful textiles as I could.In spite of the civil war or maybe even because of it, the people I met in Beirut were infectious with joy. They lived life as if there were no tomorrow and maybe for them, that is a possibility due to the political volitility of the region.
It is my hope that for the Lebanese that they will be admired for their contagious lust for life.My memories are myriad of Beirut and my glorious daughter will always be half of this exotic former stronghold in the ancient world.