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thoughts of an Iranian American


I was reading the posts I made while I was in Iran, and the ones before that, and I’m shocked at how much I had to say.

I’m also really missing Iran right now. I mean, I’m always missing Iran, but there are so many things that  happened that I forgot about. Small things, like the huge rug my grandma bought my dad and my mom, grandmother, uncle, and I buying groceries at five in the morning, but I feel like the smaller things are the best, because when you remember them, you really remember them. It’s different from just remembering a longer period of time.

I hope I will have more things to say in the future. Life is pretty amazing right now (all of high school has been pretty amazing, actually), but there isn’t really anything for me to share with the world.

I’m not really sure how to say what I want to say. I guess it’s just that nothing specific to me is happening. Most people have friendships that make them really happy. Most people feel ~~~~~ inside around certain people. Most people have small victories every now and then that make them want to dance.

I don’t need to talk about these things because you all already know how they feel. It’s not like my rhetoric (oh god I hope I used this word correctly) makes other people feel things to begin with, but I like to talk about people you don’t know, situations (mostly cultural) you probably haven’t been in, and none of that has been happening lately. 

I’ve had no revelations, I’ve come across nothing that’s made me feel profound. I’ve just been sort of lightly flitting through life for a while now. It’s fine, it really is. So many things could have gone wrong by now, but the haven’t, thank goodness, but I’m looking forward to the summer a bit, because that’s when almost everyone’s lives diverge for a few months. Hopefully mine will too.

My mommy went to the market and brought back some dried figs today and they reminded me of home. I never really liked fruits much before my trip to Iran last summer, but my mother and I stayed with my grandfather, who had a garden of fruit trees, so they were pretty hard to avoid. Every sunup my grandfather would go out into the garden for his morning prayers and after he was done he’d pick a few fruits from the apple, apricot, and fig trees and bring them in for my grandmother to wash. He’d go back out to feed my grandma’s two chickens and collect their eggs, if they laid any, then he’d come back inside and call everyone into the kitchen for breakfast. There’d be cheese, butter, honey, and bread set out every day. My grandmother’d serve tea and there’d be tiny cups of sugar cubes and sheets of sugar called pulac, I think, but I’m not at all sure.

After breakfast we’d all sort of pair off or part ways and just do our own things. We’d watch TV or talk, or watch the people watching TV or talking. 

The day we invited everyone from my mother’s side over was the absolute best. There was so much excitement everywhere. Grandpa bought four large crates of fruit because six trees wouldn’t be enough to feed all the people coming. Grandma didn’t cook for once, and so dinner felt a little less authentic, but that was more near the end of the day so it didn’t really matter. Mom put some make-up on and everyone was reminded of her beauty (I don’t mean to brag or anything but my other grandma, divorcee of garden-grandpa, called yesterday and told us she and her siblings took a vote on who had the prettiest daughter a few days ago. My mother won). Mom had my hair straightened, which is something especially hated at that time, because I didn’t want portray myself as a person who did not love her curly hair. I was afraid my words wouldn’t be enough to show everyone who I was, so appearance was important to me. 

I didn’t have to worry though. Words came to me and people liked me. For the first time, I was a part of the party, not just someone on the outside looking in. Over the month and a half I was in Iran, I was able to feel so much love. Back in America, I felt true love for only one person- my mother. In Iran, that love extended to many parts of her family, my family. It was the most beautiful feeling and I want to go back more than anything but it’s probably going to be a while, and it really hurts. 

This place left me with the best memories.

This place left me with the best memories.

Before this summer, I used to think that I lived in a boring area. An area without strangers, or conversations worth listening in on. Maybe it was because I couldn’t really see anything happening through the thick branches of the tree outside my window. I rely on my sight so much. At times, it seems that I can’t even hear without my glasses. If I’m unable to take anything in with my sight (or lack thereof), all other methods of data-gathering are dismissed.

When I was in Iran, people were constantly hiding my glasses. (They made me look ugly, they said.) So I learned to listen. It’s hard to people without sight (and yes, I just used the word people as a verb), but I soon came to see (or not) that it’s good to use this sense, this sense of sound, to help perceive the world around you.

I used to always need to see stories, but now, just hearing them is enough.

A while ago, there were some ladies taking a walk, clapping and soulfully singing gospel. Some time after that, there were two people, a man and a woman, who bonded over the dogs they were walking (As they parted ways, the woman told the man she’d see him around, and that made me happy- happy that there was some possibility that these strangers, who so clearly hit it off, would meet again sometime in the future). And now, just a few minutes ago, there was a different man telling a different woman with him that he refused to be a sex monkey.

It just feels so nice, to catch snippets of peoples’ lives. I don’t even try and guess their pasts, or predict their futures. A moment is enough; the fact that people other than I are actual living beings, capable of emotion, capable of experiencing experiences of their own.

And when you can’t see them, well, that makes everything all the more ambiguous. And that ambiguity is like that ambiguity you feel when you read a book, and imagine the characters to look a certain way, only you can’t really see them clearly. You sense their physical appearance, or see them in a splash of colour, more than anything, and when you start to really think about them, direct your attention at them, everything becomes diluted, and folds into itself.

I never did learn how to dance.

I never did learn how to dance.

perf uncle, mother, awful uncle

perf uncle, mother, awful uncle

I have such a classy grandfather. 

I have such a classy grandfather. 

I really really like this picture of my mom and I. Even more than I like this one.

I really really like this picture of my mom and I. Even more than I like this one.

While I was in Esfahan, I stayed with my mother, her dad, and her step-mother. Their house was located at the end of this little shahrack, or miniature city, right next to a mosque. Every day, at sunrise, noon, and sunset, they’d blast the calls for prayer through its speakers. Next to the mosque, there was a small strip of shops. Most of them were food shops, but there was one utility shop, and even a place to go on the internet, with a VPN and everything. On the other side of the mosque, there was a bakery that only sold fresh, warm bread. Right next door to our house, there was a salon with a salon lady who gave me a fabulous hair cut that looked fabulous for one day.

To leave and enter the shahrack, you had to drive on this highway through the mountains. There was this one part of the highway that went straight over the entire city. At night, you could see all the lights sparkling and twinkling and doing all the pretty things light do. It was one of the most beautiful things about Iran, and I’d always see it when we were driving back home from family gatherings. On our last day driving back home, my grandfather took a different route home. I never got to see those beautiful city lights for one last time.