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Ghost of Isfahan
Remembering the man I've almost forgotten

By Heather-ley Peckham
February 14. 2003
The Iranian

As the wheels hit the ground beneath me, my heart skipped a beat. I watched as the smog-ridden metropolis closed in around me that once seemed so far away as I descended from 30,000 feet above the San Andreas Mountains. I remember the scene of rugged terrain and fluffy clouds once in a dream I had long ago, while floating above satin lined sheets in love and yearning for the day I could return. I took my single bag from overhead, and in the time that passed I waited until de-boarding ran its course.

The anxiety became present... once again, as always, while I proceeded to exit the gates. I was uncertain whether it was the crowdedness of the plane, as I stood there surrounded, or some adopted reaction, while in this position, that had my heart pumping. Usually -- but not on this day, or any other for some time now -- he has been there at the gates waiting for me. I stepped through the long shaky fabricated shaft that reached the edge of the bustling airport, and finally made my first steps toward my new home. I squeezed out a familiar exhale.

I've dreamt about this before. What elusive flavor poisoned my tongue and left me waking with a strange and familiar taste I'd never forget until the one day I awoke to this vision, "this angelic city," Los Angles. When younger and freshly green, I sensed her presence hiding somewhere in the city lights. I felt her aurora in the chilly night air. I listened while faint whispers guided me to wonder what possibilities lie waiting then ran home to wonder what I was missing. Now I have come to be fulfilled with a greater sense of hope. The journey was over. "I'm here at last," I thought, but this time for good.

The hectic crowd rushed around me catching flights, and shaking hands, and hugging loved ones, with tears in their smiles. I remember he was never on time, but only once in the beginning when I was naïve and he was trying to make a good impression. I've almost forgotten about him, but airport scenes help me take into account. My bags await me down the escalating stairs, and once I retrieve them I am free of this hectic and somewhat somber junction. I briefly heard her faint whispers, and realized I must leave this old memory and travel toward new ventures. "My lady is calling, Los Angeles awaits," I thought.

As I made my way to luggage, I passed a most familiar spot, and a lash of amnesia invited me in to forget the world for a while. I stood there in suspension recognizing every detail on that plain black and white square that caught my attention and read "C-13". I suddenly remembered so vividly this scene unfolding before me. I was unattached, concentrating on this object, the only distraction in sight. I fixed my eyes upon it shying my face from his. He was leaving, and I would leave him no clue of the tears that would follow soon, and sooner if I looked him in his deepest of eyes.

I remember like a lucid dream silently counting thirteen to one trying desperately to break my concentration on the thought of his departure. I silently recalled to myself these words in an arithmetic and distracting beat trying hard not to breath as he stood there before me: "Isfahan is so far away. It's across half the world and is half the world to you, but my half of heaven is leaving now and then we will be through. 'Isfahan nesfeh jahan' (Isfahan is half the world) now you will have two."

I turned to see his inquiring eyes trying to make contact with mine one last time before dispersing into the gates of forever, never to be seen again. A figment of my imagination; I had chalked it all up in my head.

I often wondered in our time together what Iran was like and if he'd ever go back to the illusive place. Now I would be loosing my dear to his dearest dream of returning home after twenty years. Iran seemed to be filled with such magic, such mystery like a veiled beauty waiting to be married and unraveled. I once exclaimed half-joking half-serious that he take me with him, and now I debated weather letting myself get so close was a good idea.

I remember mustering up the courage to look into his dreamy eyes. I smiled, and wished him luck. I no longer had to look at the gate sign C-13. I could look him in the eyes and tell him goodbye for the last time. He was free of me, free of this moment, free of America, and off on a new journey, one path that was most likely departing for good with mine.

As he continued on his way we said a quick goodbye and turned our backs to each other, and that was it. That was goodbye forever. He took his luggage and whisked it away, I moved forward a few steps then quickened my pace as I thought of running to the exits to swallow him in one last kiss before he would leave for eternity. Instead I headed for the door before I could let my emotions get the best of me.

I remember feeling my jeans so tight and uncomfortable against my skin as my long fringed leather belt swayed through the air like a wild horse set free -- unsure, confused, with nowhere to go, just run.

I came to a reasonably far distance before I turned to catch one glimpse of him as he set off half way across the world and vanish from my life forever. I watched as he handed the ticket to the flight attendant and boarded the craft never to look back. My eyes flooded with the liquid that he transcended once from a loving gaze into my soul and poisoned my heart.

His eyes; I'll always remember the depth of brown that ran so deep like my love for him. Even now as I stand here in this very spot where I saw him last, I am baffled to recall such detail as if I never left. I remember this scene as he boarded the craft never to return the gaze. My jeans feeling tight, my stomach beginning to turn, and then a few uncontrolled tears making their way pass the barriers of my tamed eyes. I quickly shied my face from the crowded airport and made my way to a restroom nearby. (I see it now off in the distance from where I stand) I hid behind a stall door, and dried my cheeks on harsh toilet paper. It seemed a perfect metaphor for what was his rather unkind support during such painful moments.

Now I no longer worry about the mysteries of his world, or why he left me for it. I don't care about airports or goodbyes, or men with dreams in their hearts and windows in their eyes. My tears have dried and all that is left is the bitter taste of salt that surrounds my lips. What weight I felt in my eyes for him, and now my eyes weigh on this silly sign as I sit in this once crowded airport reminiscing and wondering what ever happened to him.

It is getting late, the airport has emptied out, and my lady's whispers have faded long ago, or given up on me. I picked myself up from the fake blue leather airport seat and set out on a final descent to collect my luggage. As I approached my bags I noticed a single man standing and looking toward me in some near distance. His look was young, and vibrant. I recognized his glowing and mystical complexion, and it reminded me of the characters from an old black and white movie. Black hair on white skin shades of dark over his eyes. Long lost, but not forgotten, they seem so real, yet unattainable. I was instantly captivated. His curly nose and bushy hair is familiar. He stood there, waiting.

"I can't believe it. It's him! Is this some odd coincidence?"

(I moved in closer.) Thick brows, round eyes, red lips, and blue jeans! My heart began to pound!

"Is he here for me? How could he have known?"

It seemed destiny once again joined our paths. I grew excited, and rushed in closer.

"It's been so long. Did he have a change of heart? Should we give it another shot," I thought.

The anticipation was so thrilling I hardly knew what to say!

"Perhaps we'll just pick up where we left off, and I'll swallow him with that kiss that remained fresh on my lips waiting to be taken."

With a racing heart and bubbling eyes I closed in on a closer angle at the man whose eyes began to fade.

"Wait a minute. What's happening?"

(I came in closer.) His hair grew lighter and thinner. His nose defused into a more narrow and sharp shape. I watched as his face distorted into something foreign, and with each approaching step all of Bahram I saw in that man disappeared.

As I passed the older gentlemen in bafflement I noticed his fragile white face staring back at mine. He seemed as lost as I felt, and withered. As he began to fade into the scenery, I realized I might have been staring back at myself in some parallel world of a different time. I wondered if I still missed him, missed him so much that one day I may grow old and still dream of his smile.

Possibilities seem to exist only so briefly, like my lady calling. Whispers disperse into the night as one waits too long to answer or approaches too eagerly at a time long past. The old scar has been scrapped, and healing time has long found comfort in this wound. As I passed the older gentlemen startled by my sudden presence, I cast one last stare to find a hint or clue in the tired old man that would remind me of Bahram. As I found no trace, I couldn't help but wonder what it was in my magnificent portrait of Bahram that reminded me of love.

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By Heather-ley Peckham

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