I left Tehran, a city of ten million plus, and came to Hays,
a city of 25,000 at most
December 23, 2004
I don't know why I'm thinking about my coming to
America so much lately, but it seems to occupy my mind a lot.
left the warm surrounds of a wonderful, kind, and loving family
with all its attachments, uncles, aunts, grandma, cousins,
friends, and so much more. That all vanished over night. The trip
US seemed like a long, painful dream and when I woke up, I
was in a Catholic boarding school in the middle of nowhere.
left Tehran, a city of ten million plus, and came to Hays, a
city of 25,000 at most. Culture shock hit me from all
What was the most noticeable was the fact that I was not with
My father used to rub my back or my
mother playing with my hair to make me fall asleep. I use to wake
to the sound of
teaspoon hitting the glass, to going to sleep in a bunk bed,
in the middle of a dormitory, with 200 other kids. I woke
up to the
traditional morning bugle left over from when the school
was a military academy.
Unknowns ranged from language to food
to culture to not knowing if I should wear cologne or not! It
was as if I had walked off
into another planet.
I did not understand the clerk when she was simply
saying, "Ten, forty-five" as in 10 dollars and 45 cents! I did
not know what
a "snack" was and kids laughed when I
thought it meant "snake"!
The frustrations and difficulties
were all too much for some kids to handle and they simply went
back home. The school was
students from other cities, states, and countries and some
I decided to stick it out. I wasn't about to go back
as a failure. It was not an option.
When I left high school and
entered college in the same town, I started going out with a
girl from our high school. Kind
small framed, very hyper. I soon fell in love and
she became a good substitute to all the love I was missing.
know that, neither did I, but that sure was the case.
spent a lot of time together. Took chemistry classes together,
hung out after the lab, movies, concerts, events,
Her parents were not very happy about us seeing
each other. I was dark skinned, she was pale -- and
I mean pale! I was Iranian;
American with a German heritage... blah, blah, blah.
I never forget the day I looked up "Aryan" in the encyclopedia
and showed it to her mother. It contained proof that
and I weren't so far apart after all. I thought she
was going to tear the book in half!
Despite our struggles,
we moved on. Seeing each other more and more. I lived
in a basement apartment. From
our cars, to the steps leading down to the apartment,
there was about 20 feet of distance. From the top of
bottom, another 20 steps for one to get to the apartment.
In the early
days, I used to listen for her footsteps from the time
she got out of her car, to when she got to the steps,
It meant a world to me to see her.
The time we spent together, I forgot about my loneliness
and pain of
being away from
family. Sure, it was a different kind of love, but
I wasn't about
to analyze that then.
I remember I used
to get mad at her, just because she didn't show up. I waited
and relied on those
that when I didn't hear it, I would get disappointed,
then depressed, in that order.
That was about 22 years
ago. We dated from 1980 to 1989 and parted ways after multiple
engagement. Life went on. She is
married with two daughters
and I am with my wife of nearly 12 years. I managed,
once again, to get used to the situation and
It is amazing, however, that I remember some
of those feelings so clearly. I still taste
moment in that
dark, cold basement apartment,
when I hear songs from that era. "I'm a woman in love" by
Barbara Streisand has really stuck in my mind.
in a while, when I hear footsteps that sound similar, all the
memories come rushing back, good or bad.