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The man with blue and green eyes
Ancient and modern man

By Maryam Kazemieh
June 27, 2001
The Iranian

We were holding hands when he died. That was three years ago. I keep going over that night. You could gauge his excitement or calm by the change in the color of his eyes. They were both blue that night.

We met in a London subway twenty years ago. His briefcase was jammed in the train door when it was closing. He was carrying a bag of groceries with his other hand, the train started moving, I caught myself staring and laughing, but then I jumped out of my seat, pulling the door open, I helped him get into the train. We sought each others' eyes; I dove into his blue eye that was not letting me go. The green one looked scared or concerned. We didn't exchange any words except to say goodbye. I saw him again a few years later in San Francisco.

Money was tight and working in London was almost impossible. I was still struggling with English even though I had gone beyond pointing to the picture of fish and chips in a restaurant when ordering from a menu. My roommate had found me a job through her Maltese friend in a clothing store. My days were spent at college and language school and at night I worked in the clothing store and struggled with serving the rich Arab women shoppers on Oxford Street.

They would leave their stretch limousine and walk in to the stores resembling black Arabian horses, their faces covered before a race. In the dressing room, their anger nearly shattered the mirror reflecting their image. Covered in gold and precious gems they would try on provocative items of clothing and then, looking at themselves they would say something under their breath and throw the items on the floor for me to collect. I was glad I could not understand Arabic, but guessed that they cursed their luck for their caged lives. The Arab women in London were aggressive, angry, rich and my best customers.

Some nights after work, I would go out to a Pub or two with my Swedish girl friend from my language school. I don't recall her name now, but I never forget her capacity for drinking. I could hardly drink a glass of wine and she would put away five or six glasses of beer. She was younger and happier than I was and my little episodes with the Arab women fascinated her. London was closing in on me. That was about the time I met Jack.

Jack and I met at a wine bar on Kings Road. He was agile, fast with words and a good dancer. He was from San Francisco, and was living in London to finish a project for some chemical company. After our first meeting we were inseparable. I was quiet but wild inside knocking out the boundaries that had been built around me through my teenage years by my parents.

We really didn't have much in common except that we were both lonely. He listened and kissed the tears off my face as I wept telling him all that was happening in Iran. His compassion for my pain turned into a comforting love. Jack never talked about his past or family, and I never pressed him to do so, as if now that we had found each other nothing else mattered.

When Jack asked me to marry him, I was relieved, yet anxious. I was ready for a new country, a new home but was not sure how much it would hurt my parents for me to marry an American and make my home even further from their world. My only news from Iran was the executions of my father's friends by the Iranian government, listed in the Iran Times newspaper.

The war with Iraq had escalated, the phone lines were cut off, and my letters to my family were unanswered. I threw my self at loving Jack and getting on with my life, closing the door to the idea of seeing my family ever again. I had to survive amidst the nightmares that woke me up sweating and shouting every night. True to his favorite country western song Jack held me tight, not letting go. Jack was a cowboy, a gentleman, and a kind adoring lover. He was my opium.

We married and decided to move to San Francisco. London's chill kept crawling under my skin, never leaving space for the blood to flow. I missed my occasional winter refuge in the perfect semi-tropical whether by the Caspian Sea. I hoped to make San Francisco my new home but a vague and unsettling doubt lingered in the bottom of my heart.

Jack and I happily settled in our little apartment in Richamond on San Francisco's East Bay. I got a job at an art gallery and we spent most of our evenings with Peter, Jack's entertaining friend. Peter was an alcoholic artist who experimented with his art medium and women at the same level, never really recognizing the depth of either. He never-the- less thought himself a great modern artist and like any artist alive he used to say "my work will become more valuable after I die". He died a few years later from alcoholism and his art was burned by his surviving dancer girlfriend on the beach.

Jack and I grew closer over the years and the habit of being together when possible filled us with joy. Until one day I met the man with the blue and green eyes and my whole life changed again.

It was a Monday in July and I had just left work. My gallery was on fisherman's wharf. I could smell jasmine perfume as I walked by the park in the rare warm San Francisco evening. The smell was enticing me to come closer and find the jasmine vine that perfumed the air. I took my shoes off and with bare feet walked on the grass in the park. The bright sun was turning into an orange fire in the horizon, I moved across the park and sat on the grass, watching the sailboats coming in, at the end of a beautiful day.

I thought about Jack sitting there next to me watching the sun set, but for a moment I cherished being alone while taking all this in. Stretching my body on the warm grass, I closed my eyes and all I could see was his face, the man with blue and green eyes. The vision gave me a jolt. I could not understand why I could see his face in front of me, so clearly. It had been several years since I had saved him from the iron jaws of the train and said goodbye as if we would meet again. I was shaken by this experience and unable to explain it in any logical fashion. By the time I got into the apartment and saw Jack cooking in the kitchen, I relaxed and shot the whole incident like a bullet in the back of my mind.

Three months later, we had an art opening at the gallery for a new bay area artist. The turn out for viewing the kitschy blue and green canvases of this young artist overwhelmed and repulsed me. I felt like a used car sales man pitching to sell broken down old Buick cars to new immigrants. The dolphins jumping the high waves in the velvety blue waters fascinated my customers from Ohio. "It goes with their furniture," they said.

I was writing up their order for two paintings when I felt something was going to happen. I stopped writing for a second and the woman who was anxious to hand me her Visa card asked if there was something wrong. I looked at her frozen, not knowing what to say and after a long moment went back to finishing up their orders and putting giant "sold" signs next to their paintings.

My eyes searched the room for whoever I felt was watching me and I was curious to find out who it was. My body started trembling as my eyes locked into his eyes, the man with the blue and green eyes. There he stood looking at me, staring at me as if he wanted to lead me in flight away from this crowd and this world, into the clouds. The sensation was exalted and frightening at the same time.

I walked toward him in a trance, never looking away. I heard my name a couple of times but my tongue was too heavy to respond to the voices. My eyes, or was it his eyes, were floating me around the room toward him.

He grabbed my hand and we walked out of the gallery. I did not think about Jack, Iran or my parents. I was not concerned about the future or any plans that Jack and I had made about buying a house and starting a family. But the strange fear that had enveloped me when I saw him never left me. I was with him, as if I was now finally had become whole and could not let go of him or this moment. Our minds and words floated and danced harmoniously into late hours of the night.

We drifted from one neighborhood to another, at times stopping to for a drink or food. The daylight swept across us with an unusual heavy rain. We were walking on Haight, rushing across the street in search of a shelter from the rain. I let go of his hand. When I turned around, searching for the comfort of his fingers in my hand again, a fast moving car was lifting him up and throwing him on the side walk. I rushed to his side and that's the last time I saw the man with the blue and green eyes alive. His eyes turned blue as he smiled at me.

I left a vague note for Jack, telling him that I was in love with another man and that he should never look for me. Then I packed my bags and left the apartment never sure of where I was going. Some nights I put on my dress that I had on that night and wonder around San Francisco, retracing the memories of the man with the blue eyes.

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