Someday I will go back to Iran. It will be summertime so the roses will be in full bloom, the air will be full of optimism, tinged with a trace of nostalgia, and the warm Tehran sun can quickly dry my tears to save my lush eye makeup, just in case.
My life revolves around a sense of urgency today. It is a reality I have created for myself and would not trade for the world. Yet I accept that some dreams cannot afford the luxury of immediacy in this life. They cannot happen just yet. The right stars have to align and the right circumstances have to emerge first.
The time for some dreams has not yet come.
Hence the word: someday.
Someday, I will go back to Iran.
Someday in the far or distant future, there shall be peace where there is terror now. There will be freedom where there is oppression now. There shall be goodness where there is evil now. There will be happiness where there is bitterness now.
Someday, I will feel safe and ready to go back to Iran. It may be a mistake I should avoid at all costs. It may be a regret waiting to happen. It may just be the biggest heart crushing experience of my life and yet, what the heart wants, the heart finds a way to get. It is the way we humans choose to learn most of our life lessons and so be it.
Some day, I will go back to Iran.
I may go with my darling cousins or my youngest brother. I may go with my beloved childhood friends or with my Mom. I may go with the love of my life or I may go alone and experience what I have been dying to withhold just one more time, another glimpse of the Tehran we left behind 25 years ago.
Someday, I will go back to Iran and shocking as it may sound, nothing will have changed.
Everything is the same as the day we left them. The buildings, my elementary school, the shop, the supermarket, my grandmother’s house, the park, our house, our garden, my bedroom, and everything in it that we left so unknowingly behind has not aged a single day since. My mind has frozen them in time and this dream of going back to Iran shall imagine them as such, if only to save me from a shattering heartbreak.
Someday I will go back to Iran.
Someday, I will walk down Lida Street and arrive at our house. How many thousands of times have I thought back to this house? How many times have I recreated my childhood within these walls?
Someday, I will be back and go through the yellow French glass doors and step inside. The door will be unlocked and ready to receive me. I will take the half flight of stairs up to second floor, open the front door and walk back into our house. I can tell it has been waiting all its life for me to return.
Where have you been? I hear the walls whisper. Where have you been all these years?
I hardly thought I would be gone for so long. It was a day in the May of 1986 when we decided to go on a 2-week vacation to Turkey. It turned out to be a vacation of a lifetime.
I am beyond grateful for how my life turned out. It has been a miracle after miracle unfolding no less beautifully than the most stunning rose from our garden. Yet I yearn for closure of never having said goodbye. Someday, I need to go back if only to say goodbye.
How can closure dare play such a huge role in our peaceful forward-momentum life?
Why does it even matter whether we say goodbye or just leave? Why does the heart insist on being stubborn, unreasonable, undeterred and fragile?
Someday I will walk back into what seemed to be an enormous dining room in my childhood view. The rich brown and burgundy curtains will still be intact. The painting of The Last Supper – which, hanging in an Iranian house at the height of revolution, does hold some irony, believe me - will still be hanging in the same spot over the dark wood ornate dining cabinets, and this time I will be staring at it without looking up.
Someday, I will walk into our kitchen.
I will look for the breadbox with the red flap door first thing. I will smell my Mom’s cooking and freeze in spot from the gush of memories. I will study every inch of the walls, the cabinets, the windows overlooking the front of our house, the stove, and the door to the pantry and outside to the atrium where I kept my parrots – or single unit parrot – you see, one day Madame Parrot killed Monsieur Parrot but I got over that surprisingly quickly.
Then I will go through the middle door, walk into the hallway and run to my bedroom. Funny how little I remember from my bedroom and yet I can draw the layout of the house with ridiculous precision.
Lucky for me, my bedroom has not changed one bit. No one touched anything just as I meticulously instructed. My white bed is made and my stuffed bear is still napping. One quick look in the bedroom does it for me. Time to go to my favorite escape: our garden.
Stepping right out of the French windows into the patio, I notice the prison bars above the railing. You see, when times were unpredictable and crime ever so rampant in Tehran, the brilliant solution of all upper class citizens was to imprison themselves inside their homes. Funny how imprisonment – not that anyone at the time admitted to it – has a sobering effect on your soul and young and small as I was then, I can recall that feeling to heart instantly.
Someday, I will go back down that white and wide staircase and find myself in our garden again.
I will sit on the swing and soak up the memories of this space from the eyes of an educated, worldly, entrepreneur, elegant woman, which the tomboyish 11-year old me could have never imagined becoming.
Oh how I sometimes really miss that tomboyish 11-year old me.
I cannot leave without riding my bicycle around the path, which encircled our garden. I have to remember to duck my head as I go under the staircase and to look up as I go under the cherry trees. You cannot forget the rules of the game!
Someday, I will go back to Iran.
I will leave our house and walk to Razi Elementary School. I am sure to pass by the super market where we bought gum and snacks and the shop – the exquisite singular shop – where we bought the rare “foreign” and “Western” goods like the Hello Kitty stuff, the “automatic” pencils which needed no sharpening and the pencil boxes and fancy erasers which engaged us in hours of conversation and drawing.
Someday, I will walk through the gates of Razi Elementary School.
I will stand in the middle of that courtyard, the place of one thousand memories. Sad and bitter as many of them were, I wish that I could remember more of them. That day, the school will bring me back my memories, and this time, I will lock them up safely in my sanctum.
Someday, if I have the heart and if I am feeling strong, I will go back to our classrooms.
I will probably recoil at the disgust of the even-then dilapidated state of things, the dirty walls, the broken windows, the dim gray walls covered with disgusting figureheads and nauseating slogans. I will ignore them; they have no power over me now. Instead, I will take a sexy catwalk to the back of class – something that would have expelled me no doubt – and take my seat on the gray wooden bench, place my hands on my metal table and look at the green chalkboard, our “tableau”, and this time, I will not hold back my tears.
I will try not to reflect on the nonsensical rubbish they forced into our innocent minds and instead focus on the childhood friendships that warmed my very core in that glum classroom, friendships so complete, so lasting, and so invincible that a 25-year-old gap has only strengthened their bond.
Someday I will go back to Iran.
I may be 80 years old when I go back but the desire to return for one last glimpse before a peaceful closure of that chapter in my life will not have left me alone. Someday, I will feel safe and not terrified because goodness will have replaced evil and freedom will have prevailed.
Someday, I will go back to Iran. Where would you like to return someday?
My friend Emiel from the Act of Traveling inspired this post. He asked a simple question on Facebook and awakened a part of me that had been lying dormant. Thank you Emiel for giving me a nudge to put this heart-felt dream into words.