It's hard to make yourself write when you're feeling so miserable. So what's a writer to do? Research! Aw, who am I kidding? It's hard to make yourself do research when you're cold and achy. The closest thing to my writing career that I could even deal with was revisiting my past by delving into a collection of reminiscences by fellow alumni of my high school in Beirut. I counted it as research since my next novel will pull from my high school years there.
Every time I think back to those times, I'm overcome with a certain, sweet sense of well-being. I can taste the foods in my mind, hear the pop music, mixed with Arabic melodies and the daily calls to prayer. I smile at the memories of certain teachers, friends, and neighbors.
Mr. Rigler, my English teacher, almost falling off his chair from laughter in the front row of the audience as I performed the part of Agnes Gooch in the school's production of "Auntie Mame." Karen, my sister's non-LDS friend, trying to help me stay a good Mormon by refusing to share the delicious-looking brownies that she had laced with marijuana (unknown to me). (She kept them from my sister, too.) Abu Ali, our landlord, smiling as he watched the antics of his little boy down in the courtyard and then, in the next moment, yelling and cursing in Arabic at a neighbor across the street about some local grievance.
Beirut was like that: smiles and laughter in one moment, curses and yelling in another. Still, it captivated all of us, as I can tell by the stories shared in this collection. No matter where you grew up, there is no tonic for the soul quite like revisiting the happy memories of your youth.
It is no wonder that my throat feels a bit better today.