I just needed something different, something to think about: an alternative night, a different scene with new environmental stimuli. It’s true that if the stimulus is unchanging we will adapt, but for me, I live best being able to react to different things. Yesterday was fun for that reason.
I was going to drive, but then Alistair said Yarab was going out too and he offered to drive. I considered the gas money and how I would prefer to drink and not worry about driving, so I agreed. At this point, you and I were in amidst a discussion regarding me coming over too late– or not at all– and I was in a particular mood where I didn’t want to think about the relationship strain. I knew I was causing it, but it was nothing new, and nothing bad. I just wanted to actually see my brother since I was so suffocated and domesticated. I wanted a night away from Giovanni’s room, which made me feel like your little housewife, your obedient certainty assigned love.
Why did we stay so ignorant when we started with uncertainty? It was a beautiful stage of development, a coming-of-age stage of accepting my sexuality and exploring sensuality. We we drunk college girls, amateur philosophers and ****-smokers, confused about the world but idealizing a better world. That was the ideal of us. The truth was too tragic, but we endured it for so long that for one night I wanted to celebrate. I wanted to get away. I didn’t want to think about you. So I didn’t. It was inconsiderate of me to consider you worrying and upset, but at this point I wanted to enjoy myself and have fun with my brother when I figured you’d be sad and disappointed no matter what happened, so I may as well enjoy myself. I thought hard about it, but decided since it was Alistair’s birthday, I didn’t have work until 6:00 p.m. the next day, and yes, it was St. Patrick’s Day, I wanted to go out and celebrate. Sorry you didn’t want to come.
In the car, Alistair packed the bowl. They were smoking it on the way up and I declined but instead had a cigarette. Yarab said he was working with an artist who made glass pieces resembling scary, mystical-like creatures, and the bowl Alistair packed was one of them. It was mostly blue, and the front of it was a head where the **** would go into the top of the head. It had wide eyes, a big, sorcerer-like nose and big, scary-looking teeth. “Trippy, right? The line is called Enoch based off the book of Enoch in the Bible—which is actually removed in most but still a part of Russian Orthodox.” They packed it twice throughout the ride and I sat in the back, smoked my cigarette and thought about you and the night before me.
We were going to Harrington’s Irish Pub but it was packed (naturally), so we tried Cadillac Ranch (the bar was full there too), so we finally decided on Public House. We each had 3 Washington Apple’s between beers and conversations before getting food. I had two Yuenglings, Alistair had a Yuengling, three Irish Stouts and Yarab drank 3 Stellas. Alistair and I split nachos and a hummus plate. I’d never been there before, and I appreciated the upscale environment compared to cramped and loud local bars I was used to. It was quiet enough that we could talk and hold conversations, and our bartender, Sarah, was pretty, friendly and attentive. I thought about my restaurant experience and briefly thought about her and her life.
My favorite part of the night was when we were at Public House. The conversations were just interesting; they talked about Putin, Ukraine and Russia and how “of course the U.S. wouldn’t let part of the country join into Russia” and the proposal would be rejected by the UN; we talked about birdhouses and fireplaces and utilizing space in people’s yards, so that if the world changed for the worse and we needed to survive we would be able to; we talked about being arrested; we talked about the Zionists and the fake group of evil Northern European people who migrated and were rejected by both Islam and Christianity, so they essentially took over Judaism—and how the conflict between Israel and Palestine is a struggle for power with the Zionists and U.S.; all of this was relevant to our talk about how we don’t live in a Democracy but a Corporatocracy, and the world is determined by whoever has the most money and power.
Yarab talked about tolerance for other cultures and intolerance, telling us about the other day when his stepfather was at their house going over notes with a woman from Sudan. She and her company wanted to use a product (he was a rocket-scientist and worked on a greener product in 1967 which weapons would have less of an environmentally hazardous effect) of his, but before going over the professional aspects he basically insulted her culture and country, criticizing how wrong they were. Yarab said he was in the kitchen getting water and had to leave because he couldn’t help but laugh, saying how his step-father was brilliant but very opinionated and could be rude. “He’s a buddhist-atheist,” he said, and I thought of us chanting. I brought up Niechren Buddhism and the lotus sutra, expressing how nice it made me feel after. He said any way to get peace is a good one, but atheists shouldn’t be ignorant when talking about their non-beliefs because that’s just as bad as religious people talking about their beliefs. Alistair commended him on never forcing his beliefs on Alistair, and I asked what he thought of God.
He described himself as polytheistic, saying that there wasn’t just one god but many, and because of how everything in the universe connects and resembles each other there must be something to cause it, because it can’t be explained. I thought about the mystery of life and how it’s developmental to wonder about it, and felt secure in the fluidity of my beliefs which has a general principle, that life may not be a coincidence but it is comprised with a series of coincidences and connect factors which cannot always be explained or determined, but rather appreciated and analyzed to create a memorable life in which existence is valued. I didn’t ask further about his gods, but I figured the idea he held was similar to the atheistic view Alistair held and the scientific-spirituality I held as well.
It was interesting talking to another person about it besides Alistair, and the discussion changed and added to the one we had the night before, when Alistair and I were drinking ***** with ginger ale (while I tinted with green food dye). I’ve always appreciated drunk talks with Alistair because they were some of the most real conversations I had. I brought up the hour-long documentary “Obey” and confessed my frustrations about the consumerist-capitalistic society we live in, where it’s nearly impossible to change the system as we’re being monitored. Big Brother is among us, I noted, and I praised George Orwell as a prophet and how we are living in 1984 even though so many people fail to realize it and don’t care or consider the bigger consequences of it. There was something so mystical in our depressing little talk, and I felt empowered to reexamine my life and work towards something with meaning.
While maybe more spiritual than existential, I knew Yarab could understand these ideas and provide even more insight to the social issues which confined us, the same ones we were so immersed in. We toasted to Alistair’s birthday; we toasted to being Arab; we toasted to Franklin Lamb; we toasted to Palestine; we toasted to peace.
Alistair was in the bathroom and I asked Yarab whether it was possible to live outside Capitalism without rejecting social conventions, being isolated and living off the Earth away from society. He replied it was very hard not to feed into the system, and explained how even he felt like a hypocrite for living in the U.S. and being American when his family and people were in Syria enduring the hardship of resources, lack of employment and political regimes. He explained that it was necessary to be a part of the system but not buy into it, to use the system and eventually work towards changing it. “Like Robin Hood,” he said. I told him it was hard because it seemed so easy to get ****** into it, and he said work towards what you believe in. “You’ll have a clear conscience.”
Alistair came back from the bathroom, and he talked about going to Lebanon toward the end of summer. “I could study Arabic at AUB,” and I supported his idea. Yarab chimed in that he deeply respected my father because of his work. “He actually cares about what’s happening and he speaks from the heart.” I was proud of my father for his work, despite everything else, and thought it interesting that the one Syrian we happen to encounter in our small town was immersed in politics and actively followed my father.
“You should take over what your dad is doing,” Yarab said to Alistair, and Alistair agreed it would be a good thing to do. Alistair mentioned Fatima Hajj and my time learning about Palestinians and spent in refugee camps. “She died a week after Louisa interviewed her.” “Three days,” I corrected him, and I felt my insides turn as we reminisced on my accomplishments. Almost two years had passed, and I made no progress on my activism, besides an article. Two weeks was not enough to change the world, although from my feedback it was clear I had inspired many.
I told them both how I felt so stagnant and unintelligent, boring and unproductive regarding any progress of working towards something of importance.”Do what you can while you’re able. Even if you don’t see it grow, you can still plant the seeds. You can be a sheep or you can be a Lamb.” I was grateful that my brother had a friend who could think about the world in a way differently than the normal crowd of friends he had who just focused on losing themselves in substances with no thought of life beyond their boring little lives.
Alistair suggested I visit Beirut for a month to see visit Dad, make connections and see what else was happening in Lebanon, Syria and throughout the Middle-East, and my heart sank with nostalgia and the prospect of a dream. I could see us going to Lebanon, and if I went I would feel inflated with purpose, the way I felt when I went before, the way I felt I could change the world. Yarab agreed with Alistair and supported my journalistic endeavors, while Alistair mentioned Mediciens sans Frontiers. “I don’t know if I’d be able to,” and I thought about you, Camino and Arizona. I thought about ASU and AUB. “Rachel would understand if you went for a month right?” I didn’t want to listen what I knew would follow.
After finishing our food we went outside to smoke. Alistair drank his beer, I chugged mine and Yarab left more than half of his second Stella. “I have to drive,” so Alistair picked it up and emptied the cup in two stealthy gulps.We went back to the garage and the plan was to drive back to a house party in Accokeek. I didn’t know Elton, or what to expect, but from the company I knew they kept in Accokeek, I expected a drastic change in environment from the bar talk with two like-minded Arabs.
Alistair packed the bowl again, and I was offered to smoke but again declined. “We stopped smoking.” “Rachel smoked with me while she was waiting for you to get off work one day.” “What? Recently?” “Yeah, like two to three weeks ago or something. I was in disbelief. “Are you serious? We were stopping together! She didn’t even tell me!” I was angry, and resented feeling like a fool, believing that we made a decision together—only to discover my efforts were stronger than hers. “Don’t ask her about it though.”
“No! I’m going to. Here I am, not doing anything and she does it? Doesn’t tell me about it?? It’s not that she did it but she didn’t even tell me. Typical *****. We talked about it since and she just chose not to bring it up? And she’s here accusing me of things when I’m not doing anything wrong?”
“She’s probably projecting her guilt on you.” I thought about other times I didn’t know about something and remembered finding out and feeling so stupid. “Do you want some?” “Maybe I will.. but no. Not right now.” I didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
But I did. I asked you and we texted about it, and in the car I felt annoyed and unincluded, rejecting the **** that was offered to me. By the time we got to the house, I left my phone in the car. I was there to spend time with my brother, not get into a text fight over something that didn’t matter anyway. We went inside and I didn’t recognize everyone. I suspected I was the youngest, and I couldn’t help but observe I was the thinnest girl. People were playing beer pong and sitting at a table. Someone offered me a beer. I sat down on a couch. Alistair was getting hugs from girls and handshakes and fist-bumps from guys, and I made brief introductions with no real effort of talking to anyone. There weren’t many seats, and the most comfortable couches were facing the television where rap videos were playing. I hadn’t heard any off the songs that were on the playlist, and felt uncomfortable by the blatant sexuality and objectification of girls in the videos. The drunk girls were dancing to the music and singing along with the degrading, raunchy lyrics. “Can we smoke?”
I hesitated and held the bowl in my hand, staring at the green. I thought about putting it down. “I haven’t smoked in two months and twenty-one days,” I vocalized, and some guy (who didn’t smoked) responded “but who’s counting?” “Come on Weezee,” and after further hesitation I decided it was nothing new, and nothing bad would happen as a result. I brought the piece to my lips, lowered the lighter and inhaled. It was smooth, and I held it in my lungs for several seconds before slowly exhaling. I couldn’t feel it at first. It was passed around, and I took another hit. I thought about what you might be thinking about me, but pushed the thought from my mind. A guy made brief eye contact with me, and something about him seemed familiar. He had a beard and was wearing a hat, and I thought it was impossible I could know him. The other person who lived there asked if we could smoke in the room because the guy who asked me who was counting, and others, didn’t smoke. So we went. I hit the bowl once more and as we were standing I felt the high come to me, the surreal feeling of being and experiencing. In the room was myself, Alistair, Yarab, a guy with a ‘fro, Elton and the guy with the hat and beard. Someone packed the **** and handed it to me, but I refused; I was pressured and still refused. “I haven’t done this in a while, so no, I’m fine, and I’ve been drinking.” I think some were taken aback by how adamant I was not to push my limit, because it was so clear many people there viewed partying as pushing the limit.
Alistair introduced me to the guy with the beard and the hat as Mat, who worked at Chevy’s and now McCormicks, and I instantly recognized him. “Oh hey!” I said and hugged him, and he said “I thought you looked familiar. How’ve you been?” “I’ve been pretty good,” and I explained to Alistair that he worked with Alex at Bonefish Grill and was our server when we went in to her work once, years ago. They continued to smoke and I stood among them, half paying attention to conversation and half thinking about anything and everything else. There was a familiarity being among these people I’d never met, and the surrounding of burnouts. I wondered if everyone there was a server and that was all they did. I told Mat I worked at Buffalo Wild Wings as a server, my first serving job, yeah I like it okay, I guess, and he told me he knew Alistair through McCormicks. “I’m serving there too,” and I wondered how many restaurants he’d been through so far.
He told me he graduated from tech school and I congratulated him and asked, “which one?”, where he replied Lincoln Tech. I wasn’t surprised it was that type, and I told him I graduated from Salisbury with a degree in Psychology, which he congratulated me for. I felt it necessary to disclose I was taking the GRE in May and imply that, yes, while I am serving in Waldorf and my college degree doesn’t give me much to do in this area, I am going back to school and I am going to do more than stay around serving, like you. I was reminded of a poem I wrote and th