Hatim greets me with a big hug and a bigger smile followed by “Today is such a wonderful day” I ask him what has made today so wonderful and he responds with “Every day is a wonderful day, why be depressed when you can be happy” and I have to laugh at the simplicity of it.
The universe will deliver the people you need to you when you need them. It has shown me this time and time again and yet I find it difficult to trust when someone I needed so greatly walked from my life. It is difficult in that moment to understand why they had to go.
But I understand why Hatim has been delivered to me.
He talks incessantly, always with a happy tone always smiling and always positive thoughts. He gently reminds me that our ego gets in the way and makes it clear that we must always always give. “Give without expectations and you will receive more than you can imagine.” Later while we are dancing he squeezes my waist saying “Ego hurts here.” It is no wonder I haven’t had an appetite for weeks.
Hatim embodies what he preaches and I see him give and I see him receive even more in return in just the evening I have spent with him. Never hesitating to drop a coin in a beggars cup, offer a smile on the street, graciously forgive a hurried shopkeeper or dangerous driver Hatim walks through this life with grace. He takes me to “The best place to have a small Lebanese” which turns out to be a tiny hole in the wall shop right off the square where I hugged my ex lover goodbye for the final time and walked home with a heart that felt to broken to fill.
But now sitting in nearly the same spot where I sat exactly one week before I feel the holes that I have sloppily patched up begin to knit together as Hatim declares his love for everyone and everything. Eating delicious stuffed grape leaves and Lebanese wraps filled with hummus and a type of sausage that is seasoned to perfection Hatim talks about his sister, his friends, how wonderful it is to spend time with friends and how love (romantic love anyway) is really just a frontage road to the highway that is life. Without having heard more than “He left me for his ex wife” he is able to diagnose and direct the hurt that I have been feeling.
“A relationship with too much ego will never work. There is only distance and something to hide. It is not healthy. The people who love you will adapt. Remember love cannot fill you up, you fill yourself and then when you are full then you will find someone who you can do things with. You both do your own thing and then you do things together. Then you have stories to share and life to share too. But too many sacrifices, it will never work.”
And somehow this speech makes the concepts I’ve been aware of sink in a little deeper. I realize what I was sacrificing and what I was not. I see the places ego tread on us both and I suddenly see so clearly that this truly was not my fault. I want to cry sitting with Hatim drinking our cold water in this 100 degree heat. I want to through my arms around him and sing at the top of my lungs how wonderful it is that he is here right now with me.
Hatim is the only person I know who can interrupt faster and with more conviction than me. I am shocked into silence as I listen to him rattle through topic after topic stepping on my words and jumping off my sentences. It is a dance a wonderful word dance and for once in my life I shut my mouth and just enjoy the ride.
During this dance we have somehow planned a trip to Morocco. He tells me his family lives in Casa Blanca and I do my best to hide the fact that in my 23 years I was never really sure that was a real place. I like the way he makes plans with the assurance and swiftness of a mother with 5 kids and seven schedules. There is no time to waste, if we want to do something then we will make it happen! Finally another adventure planner in my life!
He whirls me around this city like he did the first night we met on the dance floor. He takes me to an ancient amphitheater hiding in the middle of Paris where of course, we must take a selfie. He stops me crossing a road to take just the perfect picture with the sun setting my head and heart aglow. We walk by the Seine and he stops to say hi to friends greeting each one with the same enthusiastic “May I present you Signe!” He throws his arm around my shoulders and says “Isn’t it wonderful to spend time with friends!” And it is, it really is wonderful.
We end up at the Quai de Seine to dance, what else? We dance in the sweltering heat, sweat and hair flying and I feel alive. Hatim teaches me new moves and introduces me to a wild wonderful woman who leads me in the fastest hottest salsa I have danced yet (I think I’m in love). I am in heaven!
Suddenly it’s late and my legs are tired and still one suggestion from Hatim to “Walk along the Seine to the next train stop because if we don’t we will regret it” has me saying yes.
As we walk he tells me about his girlfriend in New York and says he likes my Cuban "boyfriend." I protest “He is NOT my boyfriend he just thinks he’s in love with me!” Hatim carries on his word dance without missing a beat, pushing off my words like “Yes friend, but he is something, it doesn’t really matter in the end if that something is called boyfriend or not.”
We keep walking. He tells me to always be a tourist in the city you live in. “You will never stop loving it”
I tell him I’ve always wanted to visit Amsterdam and he exclaims with joy “Me too! Shall we take a weekend trip? Maybe the second to last weekend of August. We take the night bus there, spend a night and take a night bus back so we only pay for one night in a hotel. And then on Saturday we will find a salsa party. I don’t really smoke weed but I’ve always wanted to try this. Do you want to try this with me?” We laugh about the fact that us two tall people will be average in the Netherlands. “We won’t be able to see over people standing I front of the subway!” Hatim exclaims with joy usually reserved for children on Christmas morning. And just like that I am going to Amsterdam.
By the time we reach the subway stop I have eaten a crepe (“Let me guess your favorite is Nutella banana too!” He wasn’t wrong), laughed harder than I have in weeks, have plans for Friday and Saturday, a trip to Amsterdam and Morocco and a new friend who is already dear to my heart.
And Universe I have to give it to you. I am mourning a connection with a man who did not have love to give, a home in Paris, a trip to Egypt, dance lessons by the Seine and someone to spend my nights with exploring every corner of this city. Not one week after I said goodbye to him here comes Hatim. Hatim who has so much love to give to everyone and everything. Hatim who has promised me a home in Paris whenever I need one. Hatim who teaches me salsa by the Seine. Hatim who will take me to Morocco and Amsterdam and Hatim who has already begun to walk this city over with me showing me every place he knows.
If there is one thing my ex got right it was “Be open and what you want will find you”
So after a week of dancing every night I finally return home with feet that ache more than my heart.