Being Here

Hand on WallIt’s been more than a year that I’ve sought sanctuary in this little place of mine. It feels a little strange being here to be honest. I’m sure if any of my once regular readers comes by to read what I have to say, they may find it somewhat familiar and yet strange as well. Everything looks the same but so many things have changed. I certainly can’t waltz in and create one of my simple musings. After so long it seems very unfitting. So what do I say to someone with whom I haven’t spoken in so long? What do I say to you? Well, what would you like to know? “Where have you been?”, you might ask, or “What have you been doing?” Well, the simple answer is…I’ve been trying to fit it. This seems to have become a life-long quest.

Those of you who read me from the beginning, back in 2008, might remember that I was filled with mixed emotions about returning back to my homeland, Syria. The most dominant emotion, however, was joy. I couldn’t wait to feel home after being away so many years. I did feel it, to some extent, but never as much as I had dreamed I would. I had been away in Canada almost as long as I had lived in Syria from birth. To my…annoyance almost…I could feel Canada more strongly although at the time, I wanted to reject it completely so I could absorb the full impact of my return home. It was as if Canada was standing in the way.

I was in my beloved Damascus for almost 2 1/2 years before the revolution began. Even with occasional trips back to Canada, I was slowly starting to adapt to life as I had known it. I was starting to feel it again. Of course, as an adult, life is always different from what you knew as a child. Every view, every sound, every scent, is coloured and shaped by experience. So you can never expect anything to be exactly the same, ever, but sometimes you just so desperately need it to be the same. You need Abu Khaled to still be selling shoes at the store down the street where your mother took you every time you needed new shoes. You need your favourite sweets shop to still sell the same ballouryieh as they did in 1980; the kind that was Baba’s favourite. You need the front door of your childhood home to creak as it did when you left the last time. But of course…this is not to be.


Now I am in Bolzano, Italy. I’ve been here for almost a year. I can’t touch it, let alone feel it. Certainly, it is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The city is steeped in history and is almost entirely surrounded by mountains and has no less than three rivers flowing into it. I am very fortunate to be able to be in this beautiful place of refuge. But that’s what it is. A refuge. My heart and soul are elsewhere. They are invested in Syria, in its fight for freedom and in a certainty that eventually it will rise again from the ashes. It won’t be the same but it will be Syria. I will have to learn all over again how to feel it. But I know I can and I know I will. For now, being here, in Bolzano, has allowed me to return to my writing and a hope that each small blessing will pave the way home again.

7 thoughts on “Being Here

  1. Welcome back Mariyah!!!
    I’ve been waiting for this to happen for quite some time and I’m glad it finally paid off.
    You’ve been justifiably away, I know. At certain moments over the last 30 months, I wondered whether I should abandon my blog completely and stop writing, just like you. Every post I wrote proved an emotional challenge even if I were only posting a recipe.
    But now that you’re back (and I hope you stay with us) the whole world is a brighter place. Most importantly, the return of my “writing” partner just gave me an incredible moral boost :-)
    Yes, it’s still ugly over here. The revolution has turned into a war, with predetermined local and international malice and intent, but in the end, your beloved Damascus, and all of Syria, will rise out of the ashes. This is not the first time this land of ours has witnessed such destruction, mayhem and savagery, but I hope it will be the last for many generations to come.
    Syria is shedding its dead skin and soon enough she will lament her incredible loss of beautiful human lives, limbs and stones. But when the dust settles down, I hope to see you in your natural habitat, a jasmine garden in old Damascus,
    As long as you’re there, Bolzano, with her 3 rivers, is certainly the most beautiful place on earth.
    Be well!!!

    • My dearest Abufares, what would my writing be without your eloquent comments? I’ve very much missed my old life here in the blogosphere. In fact, looking back now, I wonder why I ever left. If my returning here inspires you to write more then I shall never leave again for if there are any words that need to be read, they are yours. Thank you my friend and yes, our Syria will rise again. I’ll see you in the garden. :)

  2. Wow! This is the best part of this Monday to me. To see your name on my blog roll with a new post made everything feel right. I’m glad you are back, and it’s wonderful to know you’ll be writing from time to time.
    I know a guy from Bolzano, capital of South Tirol. He was my German teacher for a year, and what a coincidence, his grandson shares now Kindergarten with my 5-year old niece.
    I’ve missed you a lot. I wanted to write you, but I prefered to respect your decision of being quiet.
    I’m glad to know your are alright, missing lots of things terribly, but alright.

    • Oh Gabriela, I swear you are the sweetest person alive! I’ve missed you as well and am sorry we fell out of touch. My intention is to try very hard to post regularly and please feel free to email me any time. That is quite a coincidence about the teacher you know from Bolzano. It does have a very large German speaking population. I’ve had the occasion to use the very little German that I know. It makes me think of Stuttgart. :) Now that you have commented, I too feel that everything is right. Take care my dear.

  3. Welcome back, Mariyah. You brought back the sun with you, really!

    “So what do I say to someone with whom I haven’t spoken in so long? What do I say to you? Well, what would you like to know? “Where have you been?”, you might ask, or “What have you been doing?”

    The situation is so manic here, I had to borrow words from you! :-)
    Never mind that for a moment; I am so happy to see that you are back. And more importantly, writing.

    Please allow me to take this opportunity to wish, you and your loved ones a Happy and peace filled Ramada.

    Keep well.

    • Ah Joseph. You’re another I feel terrible about losing touch with. Please forgive me. I’m sorry that things have been difficult for you. I hope, though, that your family is well. All the best to you and your loved ones over this Ramadan. Peace and happiness always.

  4. Beautiful writing as always. Every since the revolution began my feelings of nostalgia began to creep higher and higher. Not being able to go back, and not knowing when that possibility will even present itself makes the wait that much more painful.

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