Thursday, December 13, 2012

Epiphany In Ankara 2008: From Victim to Liberator.

How odd...

For the first time in over 30 years I am returning to a  part of the world that I have longed for, dreamed about, hated, adored.   A part of the world that has excluded me, exiled me, and yet a part of the world that has never left me.

30 years ago, I left my land, my home to never go back.   At the  tender age of 12,  I didn't know what it meant to leave your land behind.   How can you leave your land, your home, that which has taken hundreds of years to make you, that which through time has become part of  your blood, part of the scent of your body, part of the glow of your  eyes?

For 30 years, I have gone back to my land, in my dreams only.  For 30 years, the closest I have ever come to my land, has been when the fresh smell of earth rises with the first rain of the season, when I, like a disheveled peasant, run out to the street, to the yard, to the parking lot, to wherever I am,  just to breathe in the smell of earth which takes me back to my land.

How odd that I am flying back now not to my land, but to the land just near it, where the likes of those who chose to exclude me now escape to get their Green card to the United States, my adopted homeland.   How odd, that I, the excluded child, am now flying to Ankara to walk one of them thru the interview process.

He leaves by Choice.
I left by Force.

He's immigrating.
I was exiled.

He will take his personal belongings, his heirlooms, his memorabilia.
I took nothing! not even  a fistful of dirt from my land.

The irony of it all is that I, the exiled child have now become the bearer of the torch, the same torch that lady liberty holds up high in her hand on Ellis Island.

I, the exiled child, who for 30 years, silently carried the pain of being a victim of Anti-Semitism am now going back as the liberator to my oppressor.

How odd.  
How strange!  
How so very powerful!!
How enormously and deliciously gratifying.......

July 2008
On the Way to Ankara

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

War Veteran

"Iraq Veteran... Anything will help"...

He looks up, distant glossy eyes reflecting a detached soul. He is so young, yet aged by unspoken horrors that have etched their mark around his eyes. Part of a leg is missing. He looks dissheveled, unkempt. 

My breath hitches.   Not the kind of hitching brought about by unbridled passion, but the kind brought by extreme pain. 

We lock eyes. i stand there, petrified. Anger, shame, disappointment, disgust, hatred fills my core as i try slowly to stabalize my breathing. My vision blurred, i know that i have succumbed to the tears. I dare not move. I keep my gaze on him, as his intensifies.

And finally, one shameless tear escapes and makes a run for my lips...


"I am sorry, so very very sorry"....

That's all i can say as i pull out what ever i have in my purse and dump it in front of him. Ashamed, disconcerted, humbled, distressed... i cannot fit into my own skin. The collective guilt of a wrongful war, of any war has knocked me to my knees.

Who have we become? what have we done to our youths? what are we leaving behind for our children.


i weep as i walk into the Courtroom.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

My Emotional reunion with me.

My Emotional reunion with me. 

       The veins on the back of my hands are pronounced. My skin bears lines of age... My wedding band, is tight on my once slim finger... My red manicure is meticulously clean. And am staring at the computer screen.

      I am back in Fresno, ... Well, actually Clovis!  Getting ready to go back to my 30th high school reunion. And all morning, as i was driving up to this small town, that is no longer small, I have been tripping back ...

     To those who came to the United States right after the Islamic Revolution of 1978, at the time of the Hostage crisis, my story will sound familiar... To those Iranians,... no, better yet, Eye-ranians, who ended up in the American smaller towns, my story will reverberate on a cellular level.

      I was the Unibrowed, Mustachoi'd, eye-ranian, camel jockey, sand-nigger, ... That's how some would call me. I had left Iran, exiled. I had left in fear of religious persecution.  Our home, our land, our properties, our house, our existence seized and forfeited.  Exiled from a land that had cradled my lineage for 2500 years.  

     Only to end up here, in the land of Freedom, socially ostracized. And since i had skipped a couple of grades, i was younger than most my classmates. Add to that, a Unibrow and mustachoi'd DNA and my strict parents who wouldn't allow me to wear make up to school.   Well, you get the idea. I remember walking on Campus one day, only to see the roof of the Cafeteria painted in Blue [the school colors, how spirited!] in huge block letters to read: "BOMB IRAN' .... and while i'd walk down the hallways, the kids would sing, "bomb bomb bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" , to the tune of the Beach Boys' Barbara Ann

     What i lacked for in beauty and grace, i made up for in ambition, brains, wit, and energy. I was socially awkward, shy, uncomfortable in my own skin, and unable to find a place for myself in my class... I was resolved not to back down. I decided that if i wasn't going to be the most popular, i was going to be the most successful.

     Oh, how life passes by quickly... Oh, how it all happened in the blink of an eye... Well, the ugly duckling didn't quite evolve into a fabulous White Swan... but, hey, i didn't turn out that bad either! ... And my dreams,.. oh, my dreams, and my amibtions! oh, how i fell short of my self-imposed mark. How, as i look back, i realize that i missed out on so many opportunities, and how, at so many critical cross roads, i made the wrongs choices.

     I had my eyes set on Washington D.C., on politics, on the House and on the Senate. I had dreams of the United Nations. I had dreams of negotiating treaties, and world issues such as Nuclear Proliferation, World Hunger and World peace... The fervor of my ambitions kept me up at night. The intensity of my passions, desires and ambitions made me well up in tears and cry when i'd sit down to write my 1 year, 3 year, 5 year and 10 year plans.

     Who would have ever thought i'd end up where i am today?  Not in my wildest dreams, did i ever think i'd be where i am today. If anyone told me that 30 years down the line, i'd be where i am today, i'd laugh and say: "FAIL"...

     As i am getting dressed for my reunion, I close my eyes and breathe in slowly, feeling the slightest movement of air within my lungs as my chest upheaves ... And so, i go back 30 years today. My memory is packed with thousands of fantabulous memories, and a billion plans still float around the inner sanctum that is within my head... My life has been a bright, colorful, exciting, interesting, satisfying, demanding, exhausting, difficult saga of personal risks, triumphs, successes and failures, of love and loss, of ups and downs, of laughters, tears & defeat.  And most importantly, of risks taken, mistakes made and success realized because i was so afraid of living with regrets and dying young, that i didn't back down from ANY opportunity often missing the real ones. Or did I?

    I go back 30 years today... not so much to meet my friends.. but in essence,  to meet my self. To drink and celebrate a life well lived, lines well worn, girth well earned, and pride well deserved. I am so very far from that Ugly Duckling... so very very very far from that insecure, scared, lonely, lost little girl. I am so proud of all the woman that i have become and i so relish the power of my womanhood and feminity in all my glory.

Alaleh Kamran
June 22, 2012
In Anticipation of attending my 30th High School Reunion.