June 2011

We Iranian runaways of the West live with nostalgia. The air we breathe is nostalgic. We’ve chosen to leave our homelands for the betterment of ourselves, our families and children. In our sleeps, we dream of the Caspian Sea. In our mid afternoon daydreams, we crave our mother’s tea and homemade jams. At the end of the day, when we wind down and remember we are in a different world and must abide by different rules, we call home. Though the conversations are brief at both ends, the voices are still soothing, reminding us that there still remains a bit of what we left behind.
I vaguely remember my last night in Tehran. I remember the cab ride with my mother. I was 11 years old, and right then I learned that the blurry city around me would disappear soon if I didn’t memorize it. The last picture I have of it, then, is a series of blurry images, street signs, shops, neighborhoods where Mom and I had walked by foot in summer heat and winter cold. I didn’t cry, but the sadness that came over me would last for years, a haunted sadness that I often feel, when I am alone and thinking about Tehran. The beginning sense of nostalgia that had not yet formed in my young mind, the sense of loss that had just begun to shape.
“As you get older you find out the place where you started out pulls at you stronger and stronger,” I read in a book. At 23, I am not pulled towards Iran. Recently, there is not much of me that wants to return. I know that what I had as a child, an almost perfect, ideal Tehran, with its warm summer days, and beautiful fall breezes, is no longer there. I know that I will no longer find myself there, that I will be an outcast, an American, a foreigner. What I long for are memories, and perhaps for me to replay them. But that, is just a wanting. The people I grew up with have aged now, some are gone, some away in foreign lands like me. We all left, and now, going back, there will be nothing to return to. I am only nostalgic for infinite memories, but I have accepted that nothing will be the same.

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