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Life

Settling down
The puzzle that seemed so easy and fun is getting on to me

November 5, 2003
The Iranian

He looks at me wondering around his room and says: "It's been 3 months."

"Wow," I reply. "That fast."

We both shake our heads, and laugh. It's been 3 months since we met and became the oddest couple on earth.

We both knew from day one that this would not last; that we weren't meant to be together. We grew up a couple of miles from each other. We both went to the same college at least for a year. We even had a couple of mutual friends, but didn't know about each other until three months ago, when we met by accident.

Our worlds are totally different, and so are our lives. We were raised on the extremes, him on the extreme right and me on the extreme left. I was raised in a self-proclaimed atheist family that separated itself from society for generations. And he comes from the most religious family in our town; the family that has been the pillar of our traditional society for ages.

When he is not around, I don't miss him, I don't cry for him. When he is not around, he becomes the memory of a friend, like lots of other friends of mine. We are both in it just for the fun, for an instant of pleasure. He has a lot to worry about in his life and so do I. We go our very separate ways and once in awhile get together to enjoy ourselves for a couple of hours.

But sometimes when I have him around I feel safe and somewhat secure.

Last night when I was lying on his bed and he was holding me tight, I began thinnking about my life; how it has been and how I want it to be. "Aren't I ready to settle down? Where is it that I want to go from here?" I thought.

I recalled the past, when I was eighteen and more than ready to settle down. At that time everything seemed so easy, life was going according to my plans. I wanted to be a psychiatrist, and was well on my way. I had K, the man of my dreams; we had the same background; we both seemed so sure of our lives. Little did we know what life really meant then.

I had everything mapped out for the rest of my life, our life. By the time I was 25 and he was 29, I would be doing residency for psychiatry; he would receive his PhD and start teaching in college. We would get married, in a beautiful ceremony, and move into an apartment that our parents would give us as wedding present.

By the age 28, I would be finished with my education and start my practice, and we would start a family. We would have a boy and a girl, with the names I already had in mind -- they rhymed with his last name. Later we would move to our dream home and live happily ever after.

At the sweet age of 18, one can look at a very complicated puzzle and think it's the easiest and most fun activity on the planet. That was how I saw life back then, easy, simple and fun. And it was my birthday in the fall when I felt so empowered and on top of the world.

As the world turns, so do our lives. How naive I was. By spring, K's father died very unexpectedly and so did his appetite for life. I figured out that medicine, psychiatry and all that I found so fascinating since high school, was a sham that I couldn't trap myself in. And so the real life began.

K left to pursue his dream of numbers and logic miles away. A year later I decided to try my luck and left.

The next time I met K in a far away land, I found out he could never be in my life. In answer to my objections to his way of life, he just said: "This is the real me, you liked me because you didn't know me. People like me for stupid reasons."

I even couldn't tolerate his new appearance; I loved the K in the old pictures when he seemed so carefree and had the cutest smile in the world, the new K with all that pain in his eyes was a stranger to me. And so K became history. He was downgraded to my first love, an old flame, just a picture.

And my life continued in confusion, self discovery, changing majors, trials and errors, and it doesn't seem to end. I just have one more month to my 25th birthday, trying to get my life in order, trying to figure out what I want to do from now on. I am not even that sure on going back to grad school; what if it isn't what I expected?

In the middle of all this, I think of settling down, something that seemed a no-brainer at 18. The puzzle that seemed so easy and fun to solve, is now getting on to me. I shake my head. I can't think of settling down, not for another couple of years. I have a lot to do. I have to figure out a lot of things; I have to shape my life and career. I have to move, go up, come down, experience more; I am too young for this.

He looks at me: "What are you thinking about?"

"My life, my future."

He shakes his head. "Take it easy."

And I think he doesn't know how far I have come; I even don't take it seriously anymore.

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