If you are under 18 and happen to read this,
talk to an adult afterwards. And ask lots of questions.
June 4, 2001
Separations are a fact of life. I've come to accept that. As frequent
as falling in love, and as natural. When you walked out of my life I realized
that no matter how logical or natural leaving is -- it sure as hell breaks
your heart. One day you're sharing your life with someone, making all sorts
of optimistic promises and the next day, you're not, and they're not. And
you're alone, and they're not. And you cry and they don't. Or even if they
do and they are lonely too just like you or even worse than you, it doesn't
change the fact that you've lost something you once thought of as beautiful
You've been gone for over six months now. I sleep alone, eat alone and
watch Jeopardy alone. Life goes on. The bleeding of my heart has stopped
but the tears roll freely as they choose. I've taken up smoking. To make
up for the absence of your smoke, I suppose. To be able to smell you, still.
Sometimes when I sit by myself I see you sitting across from me, inhaling
deeply and thoughtfully forming smoke rings in the air. Each ring representing
a new thought, a new idea, or a dead one you're discarding. I watch your
smoke rings and as they disappear I am reminded that you too have disappeared.
I miss you. You whose conversation was my stimulant, whose curious curve
of the eyebrow gave me courage to elaborate on my thoughts. You, whose
anger I feared, and whose indifference I despised. You gave my life meaning
and now you are gone but somehow my life seems to be around still, although
I can't be too sure of that. My heart beats, my brain operates my body,
my lungs take air in and out but somehow it all seems rather futile. I'm
never ready for a separation even if I initiate it. The end always takes
me by surprise. But then so does the beginning.
I was not moved when I first met you. It happens very rarely that someone
moves me in the first encounter. When it does happen, I usually walk away
quickly fearing the passion that might follow. I hold on to the illusion
of being in control of my feelings. Not understanding them, just being
in control. After you I swore never to let another man into my life, into
my heart. After you, I doubted that I'd ever want anyone again.
Tonight, in this cool autumn drizzle, I walk pretending to be whole.
Pretending to be in control. Pulling up my coat collar, I further hide
inside my raincoat. Yes, that same raincoat you hate. The one an old lover
gave me. He wasn't old, only our love is, today. The deep pockets shelter
my cold finger tips and I feel a familiar form in my left pocket. A cigarette.
Aha! This is perfect weather for smoking, for being you, or the old lover.
He too smoked. He too made smoke rings in the air. He too played the guitar.
The continuum of my love life. At least I follow a familiar trend. Not
too complicated. No, not I. The question now becomes how to light the damn
thing. Do you remember how desperate you'd get when you couldn't find any
matches? It was like the enemy was poised to fire and you couldn't find
the red button. I search my pockets, nothing. Look around, no stores.
Then I see her. Standing across the street staring at me. I must be talking
to myself again. She is fascinated. But does she have a light? You'd like
her. She's tall and slim, long blond hair protected by the hood of her soft
light green raincoat. When I was a teenager in Tehran I took pride in being
a tough, mean little bitch. Hanging out with the guys, whistling at the
female passers by. It gave me great pleasure to shout a nasty remark to
some babe and watch her turn around and slap one of the guys in the face.
I'd roll around in laughter. The other guys would join me too, silently
hoping this would never happen to them. That I would never do this to them.
I did. I liked it.
I also liked kicking them in the knee during a soccer game. Playing
half back was the perfect position for kicking people around. And since
I was a girl after all, they wouldn't dare touch me. I miss those days.
The days of having free reign. The days when the biggest pain one experienced
was a kick in the knee.
My favorite nasty remark was JUNE. You see, june in Persian is
a very interesting word. It can be used in multitudes of ways. Its literal
form is jaan, pronounced John, and it translates to body, life, soul.
June can be used as a term of endearment, as in Dear Peter, or Peter
june. You could also use it to express excitement the way we use Hooray,
or Yippee! in English. For example you could say "June! We
It is perhaps in this context that june is also thrown at women
on the streets of Tehran, or any other city in Iran. When you yell june
at a woman it basically means she's delicious enough to eat. Or let's
say this is my understanding of it. All of you specialists in near eastern
languages out there, please keep in mind that my knowledge of Persian is
limited to my own experience as an Iranian who utilizes the language on
a daily basis. I have no formal education in the language past 8th grade.
I hope that one day someone with a Ph.D. following their name, probably
a male, would write an entire chapter on the epistemology of june.
Okay then, back to me. Hello, this is my story. Thank you. Yes, I loved
yelling june at female passers by, or male ones for that matter.
Of course with men, you had to be careful. I never yelled june at
any guy who looked tougher than me. Luckily, there were quite a few sissies
or soosool(s) as we called them. Soosool meaning untough,
one who is rather fragile and easily hurt. Most of the guys who grew up
in upper middle class families were considered to be soosool. They
typically wore more Westernized clothes, drove a car not a motorcycle, and
listened to Demis Rousous, the Greek super star of the 70's.
My family belonged to the margins of society. We were Armenians, my
father owned a nightclub and my mother was a movie star. Basically we belonged
to a class of our own and even though by the time I was thirteen only the
first fact in the previously laid out list was still true, I always felt
like I did not belong to any particular echelon of society. Now that I
think of it, this is still the case here in the United States. For as long
as I can remember I have not belonged anywhere. I think I like it this
way, or maybe I just don't know any other way.
The summer of my 13th year, I felt like I was on top of the world. It
was as if I ruled the city, nothing could go wrong in my universe of swimming,
dancing and flirting. This was the summer of 1978. The Friday they announced
martial law in Tehran my cousin and I followed our usual Friday schedule
and went to the Oil Ministry employee's sports club. When I entered I ran
into a guy I had had a crush on the previous summer . At the time he had
considered me too young and had ignored my conspicuous presence whereever
he was. He was seventeen then, and I was twelve. Evaluating him from behind
the Friday of martial law my cousin and I exchanged an approving look and
together whispered. "June..." He turned around surprised.
We recognized each other. "Oh, it's you!" he said, thrilled.
I smiled and walked away not interested. I was thirteen then and had my
eye on the twenty-five-year-old swimming coach at the club pool. He must
be married now. Happily, I hope.
I remember a time when in a moment of ecstasy you whispered june
in my ear. It was a hot summer afternoon and we had just returned from the
swimming pool. I was still greased up and hot in desperate need of a shower.
You were in the kitchen drinking glass after glass of ice cold water.
I approached you from behind running my hands over your back, shoulders
and arms. You relaxed immediately in my arms. I drew you close letting our
two greasy bodies join like two drops of water. You filled your glass again,
raised it above our heads and poured out the contents. I screamed. You laughed,
turned around and kissed me.
You were hungry too. You lifted me up and put me on the counter top.
The knife stand behind me, murder scenes ran through my mind: knife-holding
arm rising, blood all over, screams "Hey!" you brought me back.
"Kiss me, you fool." was your way of expressing love. I jumped
off the counter and pulled you down to the floor. You liked it. Your pants
were stuck and you were getting restless. I gently kissed you to calm you
down; played with your hairless chest and kissed your beautiful eyes. Your
pants came off easily once you gave up control and I continued to explore
your body. You so needed to be loved, you almost growled with pleasure.
I held you close and you made us roll, all the way to the living room with
you ending up on top looking triumphant. "Oh, whatever" I thought.
A moment later you were inside me. You lifted your torso while keeping mine
down. Your stare was drunk with ecstasy. I wrapped my legs around you and
lifted my middle up a little. Perfect fit. That's when you whispered in
the most natural drawl "June..." Just the way I had said
it to women passers by almost twenty years ago. The instant connection.
You and me as teenagers in the crowded streets of Tehran. I saw us as children
playing in the fields or building sand castles by the Caspian Sea. Two drops
of water joined together. How does a drop split back in two? Only memories
left now. A magical encounter, an incredible union. We were invincible together.
But apart, we're just two lonely people like so many others in search of
meaning, in search of a home.
The rain has slowed down and I still haven't found a light for the singular
cigarette swimming in my pocket. The blond is looking at me. Or is she
eyeing me? Whatever. I walk to her nonchalantly and ask for a light. She
obliges. I produce a restrained smile of gratitude and walk away. Is it
my perfume drawing her, or the new color of my hair? Do not know. She follows.
A lover to be. Laughing underneath my coat collar, my exhales color the
air white around me and I feel content. I feel wanted. The memory of my
past conquests makes me feel secure. It has been a long time since I felt
all of these emotions in one neat convenient package. My suburban comfort-loving
side is pleased. My inner-city excitement yearning side is intrigued but
still waiting. She approaches nearer and I feel the force of her fingers
around my left wrist. The burned one. She pulls my arm back. I free it without
looking back and continue walking. She hesitates for a moment but catches
It brings back memories of a lazy afternoon sitting by some stream with
you. You, playing your guitar and I watching, tasting our love in every
note. You needed my approval, required it didn't you? As I did yours. My
life depended on it. We were alive though, weren't we? We were hungry to
taste every single morsel of life.
The dregs, not for us, no. We created as we went along and we felt deeply.
You'd look at some insect crawling on some leaf and weave his life story
awed and inspired by his effort, the tenacity, so many lack it in our world.
I felt inspired by the sunflowers, never giving up on the sun. I'd never
give up on you. I did. Some years later I did and here I am now with this
woman following me wanting a piece of me a piece of what once belonged to
you or so I believed and now, now? What do I have left? Of me?
You'd sing your song by the stream then casually lay down the guitar
on the ground and draw me near, your lips parting as you approached, I'd
feel the wetness between my legs, my breath getting heavier, your hand in
my hair forcing my neck back, your tongue exploring the grooves and veins
and the eager pulse not easily hidden. Direct to my heart, it was beating,
beating harder as you got harder and my hand searched for you unbuttoning
your pants. You'd breathe deeply and I knew, I knew then that it was going
to happen that you were ready and I was ready and the stream was cool and
the air light. How long did it take? It could have lasted an eternity and
I wouldn't know the difference. I lived for every second. It was the thought
that excited me not the action.
Funny, no? The thought of you inside me still has the same effect. We
fitted each other perfectly. Every gentle press and shift made a difference.
And the thought of those gentle shifts and sighs is enough to make me wet.
Neck hanging back my hair dancing in the stream, your hands parting my legs,
one arm anchoring you while the other hand searches my body and ultimately
rests on my breast preparing the nipple for your hungry tongue. My hands?
Searching in between your buttocks for the mysterious orgasmic spot. (If
it was the actual ass hole, I never dared finger you. An ex-lover once asked
me to do it and I did and he cried the loudest orgasmic cry I've ever heard.
But I think this was unique to him.)
I loved your tongue on my breast. You covered the it all, not just the
nipple and I loved it. You licked underneath my breast down over my stomach
and the belly button but never lower. Once, a long time ago, I forced a
partner lower and that was the last time for us. I didn't want that to
happen again. Although it did, eventually.
It was the thought of us together that kept me going those last few months.
Those months of you forgetting me, me forgetting me. Those months of love
being a stranger in the house. It was all in my head after all, wasn't it?
Your promises, your confident words laying out our future. I believed,
and in the end all that was left was my belief and with every hurt, with
every pain you inflicted on my soul you scratched away that belief. There
I was, raw with pain, bleeding, viscera exposed, and you could not see me.
You were blind. My belief gone, there was nothing to hold on to. Nothing
to keep us together. Your love, was it ever there? I now doubted us from
the beginning; if ever there, was no longer. I was taken by surprise. The
end was staring me in the eye, yet again. I walked away. You? You...
She was right beside me now. I turned and looked at her in my usual what-the-hell-do-you-want
attitude. "You," she said not really smiling. "Well it ain't
gonna happen, Okay?" "Oh, no?" she spewed out and jumped
me right there on the sidewalk lips locking mine her body pressing me down
and what? The cigarette broke in my hand but not because I was struggling.
I wasn't. The sidewalk was wet. I could feel it on the skin of my hands.
Public? Private? Lines so easily blurred. Man, woman... a body on top of
mine. Cold and wet sidewalk. My raincoat kept the water from touching
my back sandwiched between this stranger's body and the cobblestones.
Why was she unzipping my pants? Was she going to magically evoke an organ
and insert it in me? Fingers and tongue. That was her specialty and she
certainly did take them below the belly button. Right there on the side
walk in the rain. I breathe deeply, she pauses, raises her head and looks
at me, she smiles, I smile, my juice mixing with the raindrops on my thighs.
Amazing how easy it is. How naturally my body responds. Her long blond hair
is getting wet. She resembles a lion hunting in a wetland. But I feel more
like the hunter than the hunt. I feel as if all these months I've been preparing
for this moment.
Then I refocus my eyes. I see the blond across the street. She's still
looking in my direction. I walk to her and ask for a light. She offers one
but we find the cigarette between my fingers is completely broken and useless.
She smiles and takes out two cigarettes from the silver box in her pocket.
She lights them both and offers one to me. I take it with an appreciative
smile. Then I notice the engraving on the box, "To June With Love".
"Your name is June?" I ask. "Yes," she replies mischievously,