The Man I left behind in Egypt

I remember that I used to spent three to four hours on the phone with him weeks before I met him for the first time.

Recently out of a three-year relationship; I wanted to flirt with boys; I wanted to take someone on a first date and try to make him smile that enchanted smile that tells you secrets. I wanted to explore new people and I needed a new challenge.

He was sick with a heavy illness that I can’t remember its symptoms; therefore; he was stuck in bed for three weeks with his Live Messenger and Blackberry phone as the only communication tools he has with the world; and by God; we used them to the max.

I met him online on some weirdass silly dating website that I used to use; he sent me a silly picture of himself running around with gloves and a heavy grayish jacket in New York City; and another picture with white cool pants that I got hooked on; he looked sexy and funny but what attracted me the most to him was a smile that I can’t find the words to describe; was it angelic? beautiful? smart? smurky? I can’t tell; it was attractive; that’s for sure.

For three weeks, we would talk until our phone credits runs out, we would exchange stories of travels we went through and boyfriends we got hurt by, we would laugh at jokes we both are familiar with and we would say Good Night five to eight times before we actually hang up. I felt alive with happiness for the first time in ages; that feeling that you’re connecting with a person on a mental level and getting to know them; we liked each other and we loved how we liked each other. We got addicted to our calls and our jokes.

I would tell my best friend, Nour, about him again and again; show her pictures of him that he would provide me with on daily basis. She would assist to my conclusion of how hot and sexy this guy is. This guy that I haven’t even met yet.

Then comes the day when he gathered his strength; got three layers of clothes on and decided to meet me.

I booked us a table for two in my favorite steak restaurant in Cairo; I wanted to impress him; I wanted him to fall in love with me on sight; I wanted to have him to be mine. On the corner of my street, I waited, with jumpy heart; worrying that he might not be the person I pictured him to be.

Here he opens the door of his car; looking exactly as I pictured him. Perfectly tall, sweetly fashionable, and under these layers of clothes I could tell he had a rockin’ body. My insecurities kicked in; how come a beautiful man like this be interested in the average me? I felt exactly like a teenage boy looking at a movie star and thinking how this star is “totally out of my league”.

But then comes the smile; that angelic unexplainable unprintable smile. He smiled at me and told me that I look even better than he predicted. I needed to gather as much strength in my body not to turn into a tomato and keep the cool attitude on. I invited him to a cab; and off we went to the restaurant.

We flirted in ways I didn’t expect me to even imagine flirting in; I remember brushing my knee against his knee, that momentary touch pushed the blood up to his face; he was looking at me with that astonished look that I longed for. It was a perfect date.

A meal and bottle of wine later; he was sitting in my house; so magnificent and full of life; on a small couch I had in my bedroom looking at me and smiling; he was shy; and I loved that about him to an extend I can’t put to words.

I remember taking the permission first before I approached him; I remember sitting next to him and I remember the soft and wine-like taste of his lips. Our first kiss; a journey that lasted for a while before he had to return to his house.

After he left; I had that little storm of emotions in me; it started nice with the joyful memory of his lips, but then went soar: will he ever call again? was he impressed? should I wait for him to call or should I call him back? Before these silly thoughts take over me; I jumped in my bed in hopes that some sleep will clear my mind; but my phone started ringing. It was him; wishing me good night; and unintentionally killing all the doubts I had in my mind once and for all. I remember that we spent a month or so meeting twice or three times a week; we would go to restaurants or cafes; talking about anything and everything but we would always end up in my house; making out for hours.

To him; I told secrets I didn’t dare to tell to other people before ages of dating. After a hot sweaty session of love-making; I would sleep on his shoulder and hear his heart beat fast before it starts to cool down and calm down; until he falls asleep for a second or two then wakes up printing a soft kiss on my lips.

Then it all went down hell on the 28th of January 2011. The day the revolution took place in Egypt. I’m stuck in Downtown, and he is stuck in Nasr City. Our only way of communication is the landlines; after they cut off the internet; and the mobile services. I was working; my job as a journalist required me to be in the heart of the event. He was at home; his job as a man required him to stay at home and help his father protect the house.

As I left Egypt, after an incident that I faced when I was attacked in the streets of Cairo by Pro-Mubarak people, I gave him a phone call. I was short for words; the only word I wanted to say out loud is how much I loved him and how much I wished nothing but to spend one more night; just one more night with him. Yet, I couldn’t. I remember crying as I hanged up the phone. I remember that I couldn’t think about anything other than a small burn hole that I unintentionally made in his car seat couple of weeks earlier with my silly cigarette. It was raining outside when I got to his car; I turn on my cigarette then I told him how much I missed him. He smiled; that radiant smile that enchanted me and I lost control of my fingers for a second when he did so and the cigarette fall and burned a small hole in his car seat; yet, between the apologizes and the trials to turn off the small fire on the seat; all I could think of was that I loved his smile and that I loved him.

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