When I first met Fred, it was not love at first sight, at least on my part 😉 It took a lot of persuasion from him. But he was one smooth talker! He had such a rich French accent. But there was something in the way he spoke English that made me fall into his words, very much like one would fall into love. What was special about his accent was that although it was clearly very French, there was also something else… something mysterious in the tone of his words. Later, I would discover that it was the undertone of a Lebanese accent when he spoke English that lent to the mystery.
I love men with accents: southern, British, Irish, Australian, French, Italian – all very sexy. I used to talk to Fred on the phone for hours. I could imagine us in Paris, holding hands on top of the Eiffel Tower, looking up at the full moon that illuminated the small criss-cross streets and alleys. His accent would take me to the French-speaking cities he’s been to: Paris, Lyon, Nice, Cannes, Montreal. Talking to him was like taking a tour of the world. The Mediterranean Sea was a favorite of his: the rocky beaches of Lebanon; the clear blue-green waves that would crash against the cliffs; the fishing trips aided by bombs! But Paris was always special. He had cousins in Paris that had an apartment overlooking the Eiffel Tower. He would describe the winding streets as mazes that are impossible to navigate. And in the center of that maze, almost as if it were put there as a directional marker, like the North Star, was the Eiffel tower.
When I left Fred and Leila in Lebanon for the first time, it was February, 13th. I had an overnight layover in Paris as there are no direct flights from Lebanon to the U..S. So, on Valentine’s Day night, I found myself on the top of the Eiffel tower… alone, and desperately lonely, missing the two loves of my life.
Around the same time, the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafiq Hariri was assassinated in a car bomb explosion in downtown Beirut, right by the water-front: the same area where, just the day before, I was walking with my baby and husband. It would spark a string of violence that would dot the 18 month period that my loves would live in Lebanon. And at the end of the string was the big war that would test every fiber of strength that was left in my heart.