On Sunday evening I attended a classical Persian concert at the University of Maryland in College Park. The music bored me since my ears have been so tuned to the up-beat pop Persian songs like those of Kamran and Hooman. But I enjoyed the uniqueness of their art, the way they moved their fingers across the instruments, and sung some of Sa’di’s famous poems in unison. I liked the way they sat on a Persian rug, elegantly designed with flowers, instead of wooden chairs. I embraced their art because they were able to share not only their talents, but a part of Iran’s culture as well. With their music, they too embraced Iran’s poetry, music, art, and culture. These may be hidden glories, but I will always see them. A country’s structure may fall apart, but its love and art will never die; those are intrinsic.
R came back to our table with a Starbucks cup of hot chocolate without whip cream, regular American coffee, and a slice of chocolate cake topped with melted marshmallows. I looked at her exotic, slanted eyes that were looking to the distance. She said she was neither happy nor sad. This expression has been on face for a while now, occasionally disappearing. I told her I felt the same when I first came to Virginia, alone, lost, a complete stranger. It took a while, but they eventually went away, those ugly feelings.
“I know you feel little,” I said. “I felt this small,” I said and pressed my thumb against my index finger.
“I don’t even feel that; I’m more like a dot,” she said.
We both laughed.
She put her face down, her hair covering her face. I looked around me, searching for words. I wished I hadn’t been the lucky one.
She said I had come with a future. She was right. I’d been only eleven. But I still think she could have a future too. She just needs time to realize aging doesn’t mean it’s too late. It doesn’t mean you can’t go after the things you want. It doesn’t mean you should give up.
For most of us who leave our countries behind, America is our last stop, our heaven. Sometimes we lose our identities and personalities; we look for ways to blend in, even dye our hair blond. We try so hard to portray an American attitude, ignoring each other in the streets, switching from Farsi to English. At home, we speak broken Farsi, thinking and dreaming in English. Iran becomes a map of the past, a country on the far side, a shadow we try to erase forever. I’m not saying this is everybody’s point of view, but it definitely is a good portion of the Iranian/Persian population in the U.S.
My Spanish teacher told us to write about what we feared. She told us it could be any type of fear. There was a time when I couldn’t stop worrying about the future. My level of anxiety was beyond my control. That time passed. But I still chose to write about it. I took out my English-Spanish dictionary and began writing. I wrote that the unknown future frightens me. I thought about what my other fear was. I wrote about love, not the unconditional love I feel for my family and friends, but the other one. The one that’s complicated. The one that’s hard to define. I wrote that some people say love is blind and that I didn’t know if that was true. She read my paper and said in Spanish, “some people believe love is blind, but I’m telling you it’s not.” I smiled and went back to my desk.
Hearing the National Anthem is no longer meaningless or unfamiliar. It has given me new meaning to life. It reminds me of what I have. What I gained. What I lost. The freedom I gained. The country I lost.
But it doesn’t matter anymore. It doesn’t matter what I lost. What I lost was a past that I’ll always cherish; it changed by fate. And I’m glad it did. There are things in life that we have no control over. I had no control over what happened.
Life is a comedy, a game; whether you define it as meaningless or meaningful shouldn’t stop you from enjoying it. You don’t even have to define it. All you have to do is live it, not for others, for yourself. That’s the way I see it. I’ve been looking at it for a long time. Thinking. Wondering. Deciding. How will I define it? But I realized there is no point in defining things. I just want to live it and believe it’ll be worth it.
(pic from Google)
iPods are taking control over our lives. I was walking around M-street in Georgetown and I couldn’t help but notice how many people wore headphones. People are becoming more and more desperate to get away from the everyday routines and music breaks them free from the norm. These iPods allow them to escape from sirens and honks in streets, and the incessant chatters of others, and just about anything else that may be bothersome. It makes sense that people would want to have their own space in a world of their own, wheather that’s Mozart, Bon Jovi or the Black Eyed Peas, but is that really a good thing? What if every single person around you suddenly wears a set of headphones, how would you feel? If we all decided to turn up the volume and listen to a forever-playing melody, will we pay attention to what goes on around us, what our friends, family and children say? Is technology tearing us apart from our relationships, our once personal interests? Is life becoming so unbearable that we must turn it into a live concert?
I desperately want to see the world. I feel that every time I leave the country, I learn so much more. I even appreciate life more. It’s like getting a new identity and a whole new set of eyes. You become a traveller, a tourist, a man on a journey; you’re looking to find a new dimension, a fresh perspective. You’re no longer an ordinary person; you are different, exotic, a fresh face. It’s fascinating; the roads are different, the smell, the colors, the textures. You feel like you can do anything, be anyone without being questioned, judged or recognized. You have control because nobody knows your past; nobody knows who you were.
Sometimes we need to escape from ourselves and our ordinary lives. We need to find a new comfort zone, somewhere were no one waits for us or expects us to wait for them. We want to create a new home where we can be someone else. It’s a thrilling journey, an exciting adventure, but we remain who were even if we try to hide that identity.
Sometimes I feel I need to break away from my family for a while; I don’t want to lose them, I just need to be more independent. I think my mother is tired of me and I understand that. I’m just like any other teen; I have a messy room with a closet full of junk. I don’t pick things up after I’m done and I don’t make my bed. I wash the dishes only when asked and do it at the very last minute. So yes, I’m not perfect…gasp (most people tend to think I’m a perfect child).
My mother deserves a break from me; she’ll have to pray I stay in a dorm in college! And I deserve some time to myself. I need time to be with other people. A Lot of changes are happening inside of me, but I like to believe it’s normal.
Last night I went out with my girl friend D. We had dinner at La Madeleine. I had mushroom soup, she had the chicken pesto pasta. I love La Madeleine; I literally feel like I’m in Europe. I told D it was a perfect place for a date. She laughed. We talked for hours about school, boys, life, religion; we had so much to say. We both realized how much we’d grown since our freshman year; now we had fresh, new perspectives. We laughed about our junior year and how we’d thought it would never end. I was happy that I could tell her I was happy. It felt good to be happy; it feels good…
Next year we’ll be on different roads; things will be unpredictable, exciting, frightening, but we’ll get through them just like we got through four years of high school. The important thing is remembering that laughter and a sense of humor can make life what it’s supposed to be, a joyous ride, a fun game, a comedy series…
Rain often times makes me gloomy. I feel trapped and the atmosphere automatically becomes depressing. I loved rainy days when I was a child. I loved it because we almost never had rain in Tehran. Summer days were blazing hot; winters were just cold. Rain was something people had to pray for, especially those who lived in Southern Iran. For them rain is pleasure, fun, different, even freedom to some extent. I remember how I used to look out the window and reach out to feel the raindrops on my fingertips. Sometimes it would be pouring immensely and I would feel a sudden rush of excitement. Those days I loved rain; I wanted so much to walk in the rain. But now, here in America, the excitement I used to feel for rain is gone.
I’m free at last…I’m free to be happy and satisfied with life. It may sound cliché, but it took a long time for me to be this happy with life as it is. I always had to have something to look forward to and then I could say, ‘ I’m happy’. But now i feel i can just be happy because I look forward to everyday… It’s important to me to feel this way and to state it because i worked hard to get to this point, to this acceptance…i had to fight and i did and now i got what i wanted…pure happiness and satisfaction and a free mind and a whole lot of other great things…