“Youth is, after all, just a moment. But it is the moment, the spark, that you always carry in your heart.” – Raisa M Gorbachev.
I was getting bored at the club. It was the same old crowd, same old music, and the weekend was still in its infancy. As a dorm student (as per my mother’s strict instructions) I was never allowed to leave, weekend or not. But as a rebellious teen I found a loophole where I could sign myself out amid the Friday afternoon chaos, as cars and parents crammed the parking lot looking for their children.
The Brummana High School dorms were nestled in the scenic Lebanese mountains overlooking a gorgeous canyon full of greenery and lush vegetation. A single road connected them to the main artery that wound down the mountain towards Beirut. It was never a challenge to hitch-hike my way to university friends living in the capital. The best part was that once I left the dorms that was it, I was off the radar. Disconnected. Mobiles were still a few years away.
So, there I was, partying with the older crowd; and some of my high-school buddies in the mix. I always looked older than I really was and usually fit in well. That was a good thing, since I was a senior in high school despite my meagre 16 years of existence.
One of my good friend’s parents owned a tiny cabin in the mountains and we were all meant to spend the rest of the weekend there. I looked around and everyone was having fun. Except for one. I gave him a questioning look, and he nodded back. Time to get out of here. We’d wait for the rest at the bungalow. As we stepped out of the dark warm club into the frosty night air I shivered for a moment. I could see my breath, and the world was white. It had started snowing.
The plan was to grab some burgers from this great little joint on the way to Lebanon’s main ski destination (Fakra). When we got there the diner was shut, so we decided to grab a bite once we reached the hut. The snow was slowly but surely piling up, and our tracks were quite evident in the white powder.
We were in an old tattered black Porsche 911 (which took five years of savings and odd jobs to get), and it was a rear wheel drive. Waleed was a great driver and would never take corners normally under regular circumstances; his wheels were in a constant spin. Now that it was snowing, I knew we were in for something special.
The benefits of being young and stupid are exactly that. That you’re too stupid to recognise danger, which made the drive extremely fun. The 911 screamed excitedly as we took the incline head-on and continued to bellow around the corners. There were no guard rails, and streetlights were few and far between.
Waleed casually puffed on his cigarette and focused on the dark road as I hung on quietly enjoying every single dark second. Our yellow lights lit up the bumps and dips, and we cavalierly had no care in the world. Besides, we knew this road like the back of our hands. The snow continued falling outside.
Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean came on the radio. I lit up my own Marlboro Red and turned up the volume. A convoy of cars followed the path that we created. For a moment we were not a two-door sports car: We were a bulldozer creating safe passage for all.
As the ballet continued to Jackson’s mournful symphony, the 911 spun round corners, dancing its way up the mountain as Waleed confidently shifted the manual transmission like a music conductor. He and the car were one. It was music to the soul. And there was nowhere else I’d rather be at that instant in time. We were lost in the moment deep in the dark mountains, disconnected from the world and flirting with disaster as the sportster frantically tried to keep up with Waleed’s commands.
We finally reached another diner at the top of the mountain. By now there were at least 10 cars behind us, who all honked their thanks for us for guiding them. We waved back and stepped out into the deep snow. The warm lights of the restaurant beckoned soothingly, inviting us in. It was too cold to be standing out here, and besides, we were hungry. This would be a good time for a burger.