There are moments in life when we suddenly realize something instantly profound. Experiencing such a moment destroys all notions of how we once viewed life and permanently alters of how we will choose to live our future.
I still don't know how I feel: whether I have somehow fallen into some maddening trance, or if I have just emerged from a dark and long hibernation and have seen this glorious light for the first time. The only thing I know is that I will be like this for some time to come, and that there is no turning back from this realization.
This moment came to me one weekend. God, happiness, infinity, and the meaning of life all merged into one on a muddy park hill in Maryland. I had discovered the physical beauty of Iranian women.
I have always been an ardent chaser of beauty in all of its many manifestations, from the hot sun of a summer day at the beach, to mesmerizing night views of the New York skyline. I have seen beauty in the languid and smoky eyes of Latin women, the full fleshed lips of Black women, and in the eager and liberated embraces of White women. But rarely experienced something so close to my heart.
By accident I ended up at a Sizdahbedar festival in Gaithersburg, Maryland. What a wild, massive, beautiful error that was. I was completely overwhelmed. Hundreds of Iranian girls weaving around me, talking, dancing, laughing. Dark, sexy, mysterious, and completely magnificent. Full lips, hips, jet black hair, and hypnotic eyes. Everywhere.
It was a feeling of euphoria, heartbreak, and blood rushing to my head threatening insanity and an overload of my senses. Indeed, clear reason was in desperately short supply — “GODDAMN … GODDAMN” is all I could manage to think.
As I walked through the crowd, my eyes burning into the face of any of them who passed by me, I locked eyes with a girl. She was walking in the opposite direction with her friends and effortlessly met my gaze.
I watched her mouth, full dark lips form in a playful half smile as my own mouth unknowingly did the same. At that second, the tension in our look was tangible and screamed to be burst, but we both walked on in silence. I wasn't sure whether to run after her and explain that she had just upended all my senses or just to marvel in silence over the fleeting moment we had just shared.
Inhibition and uncertainty won out, and I continued to amble through the crowd. This was madness, an accidental Eden in which worldly problems had ceased to exist. I spent exactly one hour there in the park, and it was one hour spent completely in silence. I swore it would be remembered until my dying breath.
That place, those feelings transcended mere physical longing. In those women I saw my roots, the continuation of a long and storied past, swirling around me in an unprecedented fashion. That one hour inspired a completely new and different kind of loyalty to our history. It is a realm entirely outside of celebrating faded empires, philosophers, and poets.
It is a realm beautifully apolitical and rarely acknowledged in our culture. It is unapologetically feminine, bold, sexual and intoxicating. It begs to be further explored. The beauty of the women I saw reached beyond a physical hunger and grabbed hold of a deeply rooted love I have for all things sensual, all things essentially Iranian. It's a world I am going to learn more about.
I hope I am not alone in feeling this way. So I ask you at some point to take the time to consider the beauty of Iranian women and the smell of perfume or mint and garlic; consider the taste of pomegranates and the feeling of cool silk on warm skin — all the things that dazzle the senses. In that moment of meditation, perhaps sensuality will find a more prominent place in our collective psyche. Maybe then we will realize we are beautiful people — in history, in thought, and let me say it loud, in the flesh.
Oh, and I'll definitely be back in Maryland next spring.