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October 11, 2002
The Iranian

Part 2
November 4

-- "Daaaammmnnn! This traffick won't let up!"

Ali banged his fist helplessly on the steering wheel as yet another road rage-filled moron cut us off unexpectedly. Meanwhile, I couldn't bring myself to open my mouth. If I did, I knew I would just end up crying.

The time of departure for the AA flight to John Wayne Airport (what a name!) was dangerously close. Secretly, I wished Ali didn't make it on time but unfortunately, he was too good a driver for that. More agile than La Bomba skiing his way to another Gold Medal, Ali managed to squeeze his small Honda through a maze of 18-wheeler trucks, beastly soccer-mom style SUVs and other traffic monstrosities until finally he reached his destination: LaGuardia Airport.

The moment had come: it was time to go. Ticket in hand, luggage checked in, and most surprising of all, without any sign of the infamous 'security lines' that had garnered so much media attention lately, Ali stood ready to enter Gate 7A and catch the flight to Irvine. In Orange County. California.

Me? I couldn't move my feet. I was just standing there, staring with a kind of morbid fascination at the automatic doors in front of Ali, like they were not normal Gates at all, rather some sort of entranceway to another dimension. Call it the twilight zone or whatever you like. It just felt like beyond those Gates stood more than a few airplanes and some drunken commuters on their way to dental equipment conventions in Wichita, Kansas. No, it was more than that. Once you stepped beyond those Gates, it was done. Over with. Goodbye New York forever. Ciao. Adieu. Farewell. Hello to the Unknown: The Wonderful Horrible Unknown out there.

Even though I had a month to prepare myself for this moment, I still couldn't believe it was happening, that it was real. All the while I thought something would happen to change Ali's mind. But I guess in the end, he had been serious when he told me 1 month ago (over our anniversary dinner no less!):

"Nazanin, there's something you should know. I am moving to California."

I remember the first thing that happened after that is that I dropped my fork. I swear, it was like we were in a bad TV sitcom or something. I felt the tears rush to my eyes, then pour over my cheeks like the Falls at Niagara. Alarmed, Ali stood up and came around the table to embrace me. I was numb, in total shock.

-- "Naz, Naz, my god I'm sorry. I shouldn't have blurted it like that. Oh god, I've ruined everything."

-- "No. (sniffle, sniffle). It's better that way. At least you're honest? (sniffle, sniffle) My old boyfriends would always lie to me? (sniffle, sniffle). And I always told them that it would have hurt less if they were honest. But, but... (sniffle, sniffle)... NOW I KNOW I WAS WRONG!"

And then I completely lost it, sobbing more pitifully than Tammy Faye Baker during the height of her opulence. (Good thing I hated mascara).

Ali held me until I calmed down. When he had finished kissing my tears away, he took my chin in his hand, looked at me with his heartbreaker dark brown eyes, and with a soft smile, told me gently:

-- "Naz, you never let me finish? What I was going to say was: Nazanin, there's something you should know. I am moving to California. And I want you to come with me."

I looked at him in amazement. What was he talking about? I was a New-Yorker! Had been one all my life. There was no way I could ever leave my favorite coffee House in the Village, the shimmering lights of Broadway at night, the exhilarating walks across the Brooklyn Bridge when I just needed to be alone and think... What could he be thinking?

-- "Honey," Ali continued, "I would never dream of living my life without you. You are my life now? But this city, all this stress and anxiety now. It's taken its toll on me. And it has done the same to you, I can see it. Let's go have a fresh start on the West Coast. See if we like it out there. We can get a place at the beach. I could work on that novel I'm always talking about. You could get acting jobs?"

I wasn't crying anymore but I was still sad. Sweet sweet Ali. He couldn't understand. I would never leave my home? My friends? My parents? Every inch of this place held a special memory for me. I was too used to my comfortable nest. I didn't have that gypsy blood that made Ali move from town to town, continent to continent every few months. Well, I told myself, at least it was nice that he had asked me.

-- "Come on Naz, say yes."

He teased me, while I smiled sadly and said no with my head.

"I bet I can change your mind if you give me a chance."

I laughed and continued to move my head from right to left. No. Nothing would change my mind.

-- "Come on. Oh Come on, Naz. Come on. Naz? NAZ! "

I suddenly snapped out of my daydreams. Ali was standing in front of Gate 7A again, his head turned towards me. He had been calling me repeatedly while I was lost in my daze.

-- "Come on Naz. We can't stand here forever. We're gonna miss our flight."

Yup you heard it right, little diary: OUR flight! You see, in between all those New York memories I had, birthday shots at the Cactus Caf' Halloween parties at Bruce's, heartfelt talks over coffee with Manny in the Village etc, I had forgotten one little detail. I was in love. Just as I was Ali's life now, he was mine. And maybe I did have a little Gypsy blood in me after all. For all my nesting instincts, I couldn't help feeling giddy at the prospect of all the adventures waiting for me in California.

There beyond those Gates stood the Unknown. And with Ali by my side, I finally felt that I could conquer it. So, without any more hesitation, I took a step forward and entered those daunting Gates. The Gates to my new life. California, here I come!


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