Sometimes she would sneak out, when the night was darkest, before dawn, with her Phantom bike over her shoulder, going down two flights of stairs, and then ride it along the Bosphorous, for as long and as fast as she could before the rising sun caught up with her. She would then stop and turn towards the morning light to fill her heart with radiant energy. Then she would ride her bike home, savoring in her mind the moment she would come through the door, trying to make as little sound as she could, as her mom and sisters slept, while her dad was up making coffee, knowing that his little girl would be coming back from her morning ride.
Her dad named her Alma. Soul in Latin. I wonder if he did that for the simple fact that women are in a way the soul of World. I would like to think so, and come to the understanding that until the World accepts this truth the World will remain soulless. Alma’s family had moved to Turkey when she was ten, as the last chapter of Lebanon’s Civil War raged on. They stayed there for two years and a half, and then came back to Beirut. Alma never forgot those mornings she spent cycling for hours on end; in a way they connected with the earlier memories of green and the outdoors when they lived in London, where she grew up.
Alma’s family settled back in Beirut, and she spent her teens roller blading and studying martial arts. She has a black belt in Taekwondo, which came in handy when she took part shortly in LBC’s Gladiator show, and won a battle. She also found the time to graduate in Political Science with a Business major, and this also came in handy when she opened her own fitness center in Tallet el Khayat. Alma fell in love of late with Capoeira, the modesty and generosity of the people who practice it.
In 2008, Alma ran her first marathon, with a very decent time, although she had no special training for long distance running. She took part in several marathons and half marathons, and got on the podium in many of them. She always runs for charity, and last year she ran the Beirut Marathon for Brave Heart. She’ll stay in her country for as long as she can, and if this proves overbearing at one point in time, then Alma, as many others, will leave. If that were to happen, I’d definitely feel this place would be all the more soulless.