Sometimes I am not sure which language to write in: English or Farsi. When I miss Tehran, whatever is left of it in my memories, I like to think about it in Farsi. I like to remember names and naturally I’d rather write them in Farsi, but my thoughts are so American now, my words and feelings that sometimes, it won’t justify to write in Farsi. Such an irony, to have to write about your native land in a foreign language.
When you are trapped in two, it’s hard to pick one, both incomplete, both insufficient to how you actually feel inside, the pains you go through to correct and retry and rewrite and rethink. The act of translation is tiring. The thinking of the two together, wrapped in one, wrapped in the insides of my clothes, my body, my head, is exhausting. When I am trapped in the subway trains in Manhattan, I think about the weight of the two worlds and sometimes, I have trouble breathing. When we pass other trains so fast that for a second we might almost collide, I think of death– will my last thought be in Farsi, in my native tongue, or will it be English or will it possibly be the little bit of Spanish that still lingers in the back of my head. Such a strange thing to know languages and yet not know yourself, what you want, what you are eventually going to become.
For years I have been assimilating my mind, my body, my being to this American living, this way of existence. I have been training myself to speak flawless English, to write poetically and lyrically and get away with my shortcomings of the language. I have done the transition so well that I can almost forget about it, forget all the trouble I went through, all the times I cried because I couldn’t understand, because I not only lacked culture, but language. I can almost forget when I am with others, with Americans, with friends, laughing, joking, being sarcastic about my life. But alone, inside the subway, in classrooms, in my mind, I always remember that the struggle is not yet over, that there are still parts of me that haven’t accepted the new me, haven’t quite forgiven the old, the one that made mistakes and has now filled my mind with memories of shame and embarrassment.
I write in English and in Farsi. I sing in Farsi and when I do, I feel a better connection. While singing, I don’t need to understand all. I can project it out loud, my fears, my anger, my love and frustration for Iran, for Farsi, for that childhood sweetness that becomes smaller and smaller as I get older, as I assimilate. When I sing, I am free of questions, of doubts about what I am. I am just a voice, an expression of thought.
In the everyday existence, it matters where I am from. I am okay with that. I don’t mind telling you. But it is exhausting when it becomes the only thing, the most interesting thing about you. And yet what would I be if not what I came from? I wouldn’t be so interesting, so intertwined and complex and tormented, would I?
Every year, it’s more unwrapping, more thinking, more getting older and trying to figure out what it is I am. I am not sure I will ever master either language, but I know that I will forever be tied to both. I will be tied to the ocean that separates me from my native land.

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