Getting lost


Jahanshah Javid
by Jahanshah Javid

In a couple of weeks I'll be driving from Mexico to California and then across the country to Washington, DC. My daughter has decided she's tired of riding the bus so I'm giving her my car. I have no need for it. After dropping it off in DC, I'm going ... somewhere else. Some place far away.


I remember the day I quickly packed my stuff in New York and started my journey to San Francisco. An autumn day in 1996. I was glad that I was going to start a new life in California. My four-years in New York were memorable but I was out of a job and one thing you need in that city more than anything else, more than in any other city, is money. Lots of it, just to find a hole to crawl in.

Meanwhile it wasn't clear how I was going to make money in California. Hamid, my Abadani friend, had agreed to put me up at his tiny place in Palo Alto, in the San Francisco Bay Area. So I didn't have to pay any rent for a while. But what about food? More importantly, who was going to pay my internet bills? Mother's $500 a month was a big help. I was also counting on a few hundred dollars in advertising revenue.

I had no plans other than to go. My strategy has always been that I'll figure things out as I go along. Anything that ensures survival is good enough. The last thing on my mind was finding a job. I was going to California for its great weather and natural beauty. Everything would work out somehow.

California here I come!


When I handed over my apartment in Albany and left California more than two years ago, I was really leaving America. I don't want to say for good, but certainly for the foreseeable future. I can't make sense of it. To many around the world, living in America is a dream. Those who live in America are pretty darn happy, too, I'd say. So I don't know what's wrong with me. It's just an uneasy feeling I have.

I've been asked why I don't want to live anywhere in the United States and I've never been able to give an answer that would satisfy anybody, me included. For some reason, when I'm on American soil -- doesn't matter where, alone or not -- I feel anxious. I feel I'm attached to a live wire and can't break free. I have no peace, even when no one is around.

Sometimes I think maybe I'm upset with America's militarism. Or its wish and push for democracy in SOME countries, but not so much in others. I find it irritating that average Americans know very little about the rest of the world and very few bother to travel abroad. How can one expect a superpower to act reasonably and responsibly and fairly on the world stage If its citizens are clue-less and care less about things going on beyond their border? And what about the economy and financial situation? That national debt looks mighty scary. Meanwhile politicians have no grip on reality, no foresight, no courage, no honesty.

Those and other stuff bother me. But nobody I've talked to believes those are the reasons why I can't find a place to settle in America. They look at me as if I'm making lame, irrelevant excuses. And I probably am. I just throw them into the conversation so that I would have something to justify my discontent. The truth is that I have tremendous faith and admiration for American democracy and I'm convinced that it can, and always has, corrected wrongs. Call me crazy but I do believe common sense does eventually prevail in a democracy when people are forced to open their eyes and get involved. But until there's a crisis, a disaster, special-interest groups will get their way.

So who knows why the hell I can't see myself going back to live in America. I'm probably spoiled. And I know if anything happens, I can always run straight back to Uncle Sam, as I have in the past. Where am I headed? I'm not sure. I've been thinking of Easter Island for the past few days. That's remote alright.

Am I running away or chasing something? Nemidoonam... all I know is I can't wait to get away and get lost.


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Jahanshah Javid

Good luck

by Jahanshah Javid on

Good luck to you too Bavafa. Take your sweet wife's hand and get on a plane. It's that easy. Life is short!

Jahanshah Javid


by Jahanshah Javid on

Afsaneh: That's sounds about right. An orphan in every respect. Thank you for your thoughtful insight and kind words. I'll be doing my thing on no matter what. Hope to see you in DC!


به هر کجا که روی آسمان همین رنگ است


But as Afsaneh thoughtfully pointed out: "Nevertheless, you've created a massively important tool to connect the community. It's a role that will go down in history. So, just go and indulge your wonderlust, find yourself, leave yourself too, grieve - and come back and continue your pivotal role in our community."


You speak my heart

by Bavafa on

I do believe I know what you are talking about and how you feel, I have been wanting to do just that for some time now. At present time, there is only one thing that has kept me here and that is my sweet partner in life, my wife. The moment she agrees to moving, we are out here mostly for very same reasons that you have mentioned.

So with this, good luck to you, stay positive and enjoy your life


Hafez for Beginners

my 2 cents Jahanshah

by Hafez for Beginners on

First off - your below statement is incredibly poignant. Nothing "global superpower"-y about close to 90% of a superpower's population not owning a passport to travel around that very "globe" with.  Thanks for pointing it out. It's the great American paradox.

"I find it irritating that average Americans know very little about the rest of the world and very few bother to travel abroad. How can one expect a superpower to act reasonably and responsibly and fairly on the world stage if its citizens are clue-less and care less about things going on beyond their border?"

"Our collective orphandom": I have "lived" in England, Italy, Iran, and the US - "lived" meaning more than the minimum 1 year. They each give something, and completely rob you of another completely different/necessary "thing." After many years of these to-and-fros, I finally decided most of us (folks who left Iran for one reason or another) are like orphans. Living with a massively unquantifiable hole in our hearts. Awfully hard to fill that hole. But accepting - is often the first step to healing. Mommie's never coming back. Terrible thing to accept, but the second you do, when you truly allow yourself to  grieve it, then your healing begins. (In my personal experience, as an orphan - none of the other homes I'd lived in, were as welcoming as the US. It's still qualifies as an orphanage - but the "Freedom" afforded me here has always felt  priceless. I'm not a "fucking foreigner" - or at least those who think I am in the US, are themselves, too! It's allowed me to breathe. Having said that, I am coming to learn that Freedom without "Farhang"/Culture is like toast without butter... so, I get pestered by the deep flaws in the US ... but it's now "home" - up to me to contribute to its flaws.)

"Your wonderlust": Like Soosan was pointing out - you have to quench your wonderlust. I see it connected to the deeper sense of orphandom many of us carry. Grieving over the reality of our collective orphandom - would help to quench that wonderlust. (None of that, "we are children of the world stuff - Losing "Mommie" is very real.) So, through your wonderlust make sure you grieve. Let it out. You're of that severed generation, and healing that wound is hard. But let it bleed. Go through the mother of all your pains, say "goodbye" to it, hopefully, and embrace the next chapter in your life. ... And going around the world often helps. What you're not, often helping you better see who you are. I'm not a politico and in our media, the "serious" discourse is politics-only based - and the rest is just trivia. "Rachel Maddow" or "American Idol" - (Charlie Rose is one of the few who does a great job of keeping a balance - the "intellectuals" on his show aren't just the politicos.) I say this, as I do wish would be a little more Charlie Rose-y-fied! Tired of hate speeches from all sides followed by trivia - the same Black and White pattern that exists in the rest of the media. Nevertheless, you've created a massively important tool to connect the community. It's a role that will go down in history. So, just go and indulge your wonderlust, find yourself, leave yourself too, grieve - and come back and continue your pivotal role in our community.

(and if you're in DC- come and say hello.) 


Esfand Aashena

JJJ I'd never recommend you go to Iran, no siri!

by Esfand Aashena on

I just meant to say what I'm thinking of doing in retirement but know that Iran is not for you.  Certainly not with the current regime.  Maybe by the time you and me retire Iran is no longer Islamic Republic.

I think for us Iranians, Europe is probably the best alternative if we have a choice.  Latin America, Asia or Australia are not in out genes and we can't probably last too long.

For you I recommend somewhere by the ocean, so I said an eastern beach in US from any of the oceanside states.  In Europe I recommended Venice before in an earlier blog.  Bottom line, somewhere cheap, safe, public transportation and good weather and fun! 

No matter what, since you're moving all the time, you have it all!  It doesn't get any better than that!  As for that's good to hear, I just hope you remember the only change that'd be really a 'change' in is comment control!  Sorry I couldn't help but to get in a plug for freedom! 

Everything is sacred

Jahanshah Javid


by Jahanshah Javid on

Thanks Esfand. I'll be doing what I do on as usual. Even if I decide to go to the moon! I would not go back to Iran simply because it's bad for my health :) People in my line of work don't survive there for very long if they do their job :)

Europe, east or west, is great. Always an option.

Jahanshah Javid

"the most remote inhabited island in the world"

by Jahanshah Javid on

Easter Island (Rapa Nui: Rapa Nui, Spanish: Isla de Pascua) is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeastern most point of the Polynesian triangle. A special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888, Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai (play /ˈmoʊ.aɪ/), created by the early Rapanui people. It is a World Heritage Site (as determined by UNESCO) with much of the island protected within Rapa Nui National Park. In recent times the island has served as a cautionary tale about the cultural and environmental dangers of overexploitation. Ethnographers and archaeologists also blame diseases carried by European colonizers and slave raiding of the 1860s for devastating the local peoples. Easter Island is claimed to be "the most remote inhabited island in the world" >>> Wikipedia

Those statues I MUST see.

Esfand Aashena

JJJ maybe take the "scenic route" when going from SF to DC!

by Esfand Aashena on

I think I know what you mean.  I too wish I was able to live in Europe and elsewhere and probably for the same reasons as you've stated (couldn't find a straight answer/point ;-) but since I'm attached to family and job, no can do!

I'm still hoping when and if I get retired I can go to Iran for longer periods and live there and here in US until I can decide where is better to stay.

I've been reading people are starting to retire in cheaper places like Eastern Europe and maybe that becomes a trend due to economic hardships and fixed retirement incomes.

When I first read your blog I thought you were going to say that after you drop off your car (would unload a better word?! ;-) you are going to a far off places and washing your hand off everything up to and including!  Screw you all you'd say!  The new owners would take over and take this to new places and all you old folks would be forgotten and new blood would take over!  Same "new blood" as Radio Javan!  wherever and whoever they are!

Anyway, maybe to get back to liking America take the scenic route this time.  While American cities look cookie cutter urban scenes maybe new states and places you haven't seen catches your attention!  I recommend a beach town in east coast (not Florida).  Become a year round beach bum! 

Everything is sacred

Jahanshah Javid


by Jahanshah Javid on

Medulla: You will not see me back in Iran. I have no desire whatsoever to go there. Been there... done that.

hirre: Move to US. It's much better -- and brighter -- than Sweden :)

Anahid: Becoming a parent is almost impossible for me. Almost.

Anahid Hojjati

hirre, 480 days of parental leave

by Anahid Hojjati on

I love this. May be I should move to Sweden, get a job, then somehow get into being a parent again. This is a plan. 



by hirre on

When I travel to the states I always wonder how people can comprehend the whole country as it is... For me it's like having many countries existing in one large piece of land. A person's "home-feeling" seems insignificant in this situation...

I've always wanted to move to the states, but there are a lot of stuff that kept me away, e.g.: free health care, free education, vacation (in sweden we have 4 weeks and up, I have almost 6 weeks), parental leave (480 days) and so on etc etc... The only benefits I see is: better weather, crazier iranians in LA :), more fun things to do etc, but for serious matters in life, I don't see any pros (sure the US seems fantastic for an iranian from Iran, but what does that person know about real average days facts)...

Also one irritating thing about the US is that it's a ~14h flight if you want to reach European countries and more for Asian counteries...

Medulla Oblongata

Cynic speaking

by Medulla Oblongata on

Me being inherently cynical, I think your "naneh-man-gharibam" story, is just a prelude to something much more sinister. Perhaps a overdue visit to your motherland?

You see, I really envy people like you, nothing personal,but at the same time  just have to admire level of sophistication!!

Taking my hat off!

Anahid Hojjati

If I say that I have not even heard of Easter Island

by Anahid Hojjati on

It will just confirm your theories that those living in US have no clue about the rest of the world :).

Jahanshah Javid


by Jahanshah Javid on

Thanks Cheezaki! That's a great song -- and perfect for the occasion :)



by Cheezaki on

Your life is reminding me of the exciting and uncertain era of punk rock. Peace be with you in your travels.


Jahanshah Javid

Whatever comes

by Jahanshah Javid on

Thanks Soosan. I'm happy where I am, even though it's not any one place. I think!

Soosan Khanoom

Dear JJ

by Soosan Khanoom on

 I went through big moves just like yours from east to west of the U.S ... I had a good job in the east coast and left it for another one in the west coast but  still nothing satisfied me and I did not know what I want. So I took sometime off from my job at Stanford University and travelled to Europe and Middle East ... Once  I came back to the U.S I quit my job at the west coast and now I am back to square one. Back to the job and life that I had in the east coast ....

Sometimes it takes a trip around the world to know that what you had before was really precious ...

May you soon find your way to where you belong .... wherever that place is...