“Look! It’s a full moon.”
My daughter Mahdiyeh, who was visiting San Francisco a few weeks ago, looks up.
“Do you know who it reminds me of?”
“You know… The One.”
“Which ‘one’ is it this time?”
I tell her.
I met her in Tehran twenty years ago, in the summer of 1989, a few months before leaving Iran for the U.S. She was Mahdiyeh’s kindergarten teacher. I would write her poems and pass them on through Mahdiyeh.
It’s sometime around December 1991. I’m sitting on the bathroom floor of a hotel room. Jimmy J is asleep. We are in Denver to receive student journalism awards. It’s 11 in the morning on a Friday, Tehran time. Time for my call to the love of my life. I hear the sound of the beep which confirms the international connection. My heart beats with excitement and anticipation. She answers.
“Hi! Chetori? Khoobi?”
“… Hello? Are you there?”
“I got your letter.” She sounds upset, angry. I don’t recognize this tone.
“What’s wrong?! You don’t remember what you wrote? It’s over. Don’t call me ever again!”
I feel like I’m sinking into a black hole. I’m in a state of panic. I start writing. I tell her how sorry I am, that I didn’t mean to hurt her. I write “I love you, I love you, I love you…” page after page after page until my handwriting deteriorates.
Two weeks earlier I wasn’t even sure she was my girlfriend. I had seen her during a visit to Tehran that summer. We had a wonderful time. It was heaven. One night at her home, before having dinner with her family, I took out a ring and proposed. She was surprised. She said she never wanted to get married. Let’s wait and see, she said. To me, that was a no. I returned to the U.S., deeply in love but unsure of our future. I started dating a colleague at the college newspaper. It made me feel sad and guilty. I wrote to her and told her how I felt. She was the only person in the world I could confess to.
A few days later I went to Florida to visit my mother. One night I called Tehran. She was in a cheerful mood. I decide to pop the question again, just for fun.
“So will you become Mrs. Javid or not?”
“Yes, I will.”
I want to scream with joy.
In the morning I tell my mother. She’s thrilled. We drive to Miami’s South Beach. I fold up my jeans and step into the warm ocean. My mother takes a picture. I have it in an album somewhere. I’m standing with feet slightly apart. My face says it all: It’s the best day of my life.