The Night Bombs Flew over Metula: Part 3

I do not recall there being much to do in Metula, at least not for a couple of young kids from out of town. I do remember going to a small convenience store located near the hotel and buying some popsicles. I can also remember how shocked I was to see that fish was being served up for breakfast at the buffet in the hotel dining room. I have a vivid recollection of playing war with this set of plastic toy soldiers. My parents must have bought it for me in Metula because I am fairly certain that I did not bring it with me from back home. The set was pretty cool though as it included more than just little plastic soldiers. There were also jeeps, tanks, helicopters and fighter jets. I lined each little army opposite each other and had them fight a war on the hotel room floor. The battles were hard fought and very bloody with each side sustaining massive casualties. As I was playing at war, I wondered what it would be like to live in a country such as Israel or Lebanon, countries where the threat of war and violence seemed ever-present. I wondered what it would be like to be a soldier, ready to fight and perhaps die at any moment. 

The second night of our stay in the northernmost town of Israel, my mother was packing up our luggage in anticipation of our departure the next morning. I was playing war again and my sister was watching something on television with my dad. Eventually my sister and I headed off to bed a little later than we usually would and I fell asleep without much delay. I woke up during the middle of the night. It must have been around two o’clock in the morning. From my bed, I could see that the sliding door leading to the balcony was open and I saw my father leaning on the railing and looking up at the sky. I got up and headed out to see what had captivated my father’s attention. As I stepped out onto the balcony, my father pointed to the sky and I immediately saw a succession of four lights go northwards from somewhere in the south. It happened again soon afterwards and several more times after that. My father explained that the Israelis were bombing southern Lebanon and that they were probably targeting Hizballah positions. Needless to say I was mesmerized, I couldn’t tear me eyes away from the skies. After some time, my father convinced me to head back to bed.  

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The Night Bombs Flew over Metula: Part 2

On this, our third trip, we were heading back to Chebaa. However, my parents decided that, while it was of capital importance to spend some time with my grandparents, it was also important that we enjoy ourselves. This was a vacation after all and unfortunately, there was only so much amusement that a small town like Chebaa could provide. My father therefore planned for us to fly from Montreal to Israel, hire a driver and cross the border into Lebanon, spend about ten days in Chebaa with my grandparents, cross the border back into Israel and spend about a week in Tel-Aviv before flying back home.

We landed in Tel-Aviv on a lovely Friday blessed with sunny warmth after an exhaustive pair of flights. We grabbed our luggage and before we knew it, we were driving towards the Israeli-Lebanese border. After a little over three hours, we entered the small border town of Metula. As we approached the border crossing, my parents and our driver readied themselves for what would surely be a difficult process. My sister and I remained fixated on the view through the rear-view window of our car. It quickly became apparent to the adults in the car that something was wrong. My father and the driver stepped out of the car and spoke to some Israeli soldiers. They returned shortly after with the driver quickly performing a u-turn almost before he had a chance to close the driver side door. My father learned that the border crossing then known as the Good Fence was closed and wouldn’t reopen until Sunday because of the Sabbath. We had no choice but to spend a couple of nights in Metula and were lucky enough to find a pretty decent room in one of the few hotels located in the small town.

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The Night Bombs Flew over Metula: Part 1

Flying thousands of feet in the air, I was wondering what lay ahead of us during this trip back to the motherland. The motherland was Lebanon and we were on our way to visit my paternal grandparents who still lived in a small mountain village located near the Golan Heights. The village was called Chebaa. I was only nine years old and this was already my third time visiting Lebanon. I could not remember much of my first visit to Chebaa as I was only two years old. I do have this one vivid memory of stumbling out unto a sunny terrace overviewing a lush garden and being picked up by my father. As he held me in his arms, he turned to allow us both to survey the land he had known since he was younger than I was then.

During my second visit to Lebanon, we did not drive up the mountain roads to Chebaa. Instead, a childhood friend of my father’s, Muhammad Dib, drove my grandparents down to meet us in Beirut. We stayed in a nice hotel and attended a marriage. I remember enjoying my time in Beirut. For some reason, all the restaurants we would dine in would almost always be located on the banks of a river or a creek, or, better yet, would overlook the Mediterranean Sea. There was something so magical about having a meal with the sound of trickling water or crashing waves complementing the experience. Enjoyment of the food and the company amid such surroundings is undeniably magnified.

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Beats, Groovin’ and the Lulas: Final Part

Eventually, I had to use the restrooms and left my post for only a few minutes. Luckily, there was no lineup. As I was hurrying back to our spot, I noticed that she was no longer there and the realisation was like a bullet through my heart. I was devastated. I looked around for a little while but could find no trace of her. Focusing back to the dance, I attempted to push aside all thoughts about the girl with the curls.

Time flows in peculiar ways during a groove. In certain moments, it feels like the hours are fleeing by too quickly; in other moments, seconds seems like hours. Eventually, it was time to leave. We had consumed all our drugs and danced for hours on end. We must have seemed like zombies as we walked to the car. On the ride back home, each one of us had stories to tell, many of which involved lulas. When it was my turn to speak, I chose not to tell the guys about the girl with the curly hair. I could not bring myself to put into words how I felt when I first saw her and the more I tried the less real the experience seemed to be…  I remained silent and simply listened to the conversation while driving back to reality.

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Beats, Groovin’ and the Lulas: Part 5

After a couple of tracks had played and I was deeply entranced in the groove, I felt someone brush against my back. I moved a couple of inches forward and delved back into the dance. Once again, I felt someone brush against my back but it felt more deliberate this time. Slightly annoyed, I stepped forward again and spun around and, for a timeless moment, all that existed was her: bouncing blond curls, bright bluish gray smiling eyes, an endearingly pretty face that looked up at me expectantly. I was dumbstruck, rooted in that spot, speechless, heart aching. I can only imagine what impression I was making as I stood there motionless. She was still dancing. It was only when she turned around to face her friends that I was able to tear myself away and spin back around.

As the music kept fueling the groove and I managed to regain my composure, I dove right back into it with fierce intensity. I was now grooving for her. I had to show her how much I loved it all and how good I was at it. I needed to impress her with my amazing moves, then she would surely like me. She could not help but realise that she had to like me and that she should be dancing with me. For the entire time she was near me, my thoughts and my senses were full of her. I would spin around and catch a glimpse of her. I would smile and try to catch her eye. When a there was an amazing buildup in the music that suddenly exploded into enveloping sound, the crowd would erupt again in joyful stomping and jumping and I looked to her and tried to live the moment with her and only her.

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Beats, Groovin’ and the Lulas: Part 4

We eventually settled on a spot near the outskirts of the dance floor but on the opposite side of the entrance. This was my kind of location. I needed space to move when I danced and disliked being tightly wedged between too many people, hardly able to manage a side step. When I grooved, I commanded the area around me. I was aggressive, I was unstoppable, I was happy. As cliché as it sounds, I felt as free as I had ever felt. I felt connected to all those wild and phenomenal souls around me, all of whom unerringly understood the magic of that musical gathering experience. I stomped; I jumped; I raised my hands in the air; I sweated; I ran to the bathroom and ran back, deathly fearful of missing anything.

The spot we had chosen had plenty of lovely girls grooving the night happily away. We had a name for lovely girls at a rave. We called them “lulas” but perhaps too liberally. A true lula was one you felt you had made a connection with on the dance floor. The connection could be as subtle as catching the lula’s eye and creating that split second of eye contact that would forge your every move as long as she was near. The stories that would pour out of one’s mind because of a lula’s real or imagined attentions were most often than not delusional, but felt insanely real. I must admit that I often fell prey to such delusions myself, maybe it was the drugs but every one of the guys also experienced it at some point during a groove.

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Beats, Groovin’ and the Lulas: Part 3

Once inside, it was business time. We needed to find the bathrooms in order to respond to nature’s call and dismantle the Con-cock-tions to have access to our drugs, find one of the many bars to buy bottled water, find some seats to “pop our nuggets” and ready ourselves for the groove. We managed to find the bathroom pretty quickly and once the pills were safely tucked away in our pockets, we bought some water at $5 a bottle and headed to some seats nearby. It was time to pop. We each had the same amount of pills, a perfect formula we had devised through our many groove experiences, 2 speeds and 1 ecstasy. We would begin with the first speed to get us going, then the ecstasy around 3 or 4 in the morning and the last speed around 5 or 6. I was ready to groove from the moment we got there since part of my groove ritual was to drink a Monster energy drink on the way there. While my friends were sitting down after having consumed our first speed, I was dancing already. 

It was time to do our usual survey of the dance floor. Lining up one after the other, we plunged into growing crowd. Despite the tediousness of having to clear a path through the dense mass, I always appreciated these walks. I loved seeing the different people dancing, their reactions to the beats and the mixes, the intensity in their eyes, their bodies in rhythmic ecstatic movement. The very center of the dance floor was thick with hundreds of men, most shirtless, grinding to the rhythm with unrelenting abandonnement. 

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