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  • I spent the 1970s as a child living in the Middle East, first in Saudi Arabia and then in Tehran, Iran. My father was a defense contractor who taught the ways of maintaining a tactical Air Force to the Arabs and then the Iranians. I was just a goofy kid doing all the things that tweens and teens do but in a much different locale than my cousins back in the States.

    I had finished three years of high school at Tehran American School and was just starting my senior year when the revolution poured into the streets. I wanted nothing more than to stay in Iran and graduate with the Class of '79, but Dad said it was time to go. He stayed behind until February 1979 - two weeks after Ayatollah Khomeini's return - but my sister, mother and I were put on a plane and sent "home". As it turned out, there was no Class of '79 and no one graduated from TAS that year.

    When I arrived back in the States I was confused, lonely and ticked-off at the world. I’d been cheated and there wasn’t a single person who understood me, who I was, or where I was from. I didn't even know. In other words, I was a typical teenager but with some extra heavy baggage.

    All of my friends were scattered to the winds by the Islamic Revolution, and life in small town Kansas was more alien to me than anything I had ever experienced in Iran or Saudi Arabia. I acted out, I smoked a lot of pot, and I wished I was anywhere other than Mulvane Frickin' Kansas. As soon as I graduated from high school, I bought a run-down Toyoto and left for college.

    I did well in school but partied through most of my college years. It was more than just having fun, it was about staying numb, not thinking about the sadness, the loss. In graduate school a psychologist diagnosed me with a ‘General Anxiety Disorder’ coupled with feelings of ‘unresolved anger’. Edgy and angry after losing everything and coming ‘home’ from a revolution? It was an accurate diagnosis.

    Looking back now, my behavior was quite common for a ‘third culture kid’, even for those who return to their home culture without all the drama of my situation. And I don’t mean to slag on the psychologist who labeled me with a General Anxiety Disorder. The label wasn’t important to him, and he provided an environment where I could discuss my rage and frustrations, which was all I needed. A place to vent and a sympathetic ear to burn away the anger.

    As miserable as I was at times, I wouldn’t trade a second of that misery even if I could. I know that sounds cliche but it’s true -- there is no teacher like experience and what I learned cannot be found in books.

    As to the photograph above… this is the 1978 Student Television and Radio group from Tehran American School (the STARs). Our school had all the luxuries of money, which allowed us to have an in-school broadcast facility. This was heaven for 70s teens as we blasted the compound with Led Zeppelin, Queen, Boston, Foghat, Bowie, the Stones and all our favorite Gods of Heavy Metal Thunder. In the center of the back row is a young gentleman wearing dark sunglasses. To his right is a boy with a Joker grin and a moptop of hair -- that's me. These were good times, about six months before it all fell apart. I look at this picture now and smile. ‘Good times, bad times, you know I’ve had my share…"
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