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  • I stood barefoot on the roof. It was a fresh, fall night and the moon glittered, magnificent and orange, somewhat eerie. I sang my favorite Iranian folk song – about a man in love with a woman, who is so beautiful she can kill him with her looks alone. In the song, the woman is a deer, and her lover is the hunter, on his way to the mountains carrying a rifle on his back.

    A helicopter passed over me and I imagined a war-zone and bombs bursting while someone sang one last time. At the end of the song, I pulled out my lighter from my pocket and smoked into the blackness, swaying with the winds. There was no one there – just me, the moon and a beautiful city that hid secrets, covering the loneliness with its pretty blanket. The truth remained to be known only to those whose hearts were broken, who suffered in pain and wandered the city day and night ... and there I was on the roof, trying to let go. I could sit for hours, watching the moon, wondering the same thing I always wonder: when will it become okay?

    I thought briefly, as I often due out of old habit, about Iran, the birth country. But more and more, Iran becomes vague, fading into an abyss, where nothing, not even an echo remains. The idea of Iran is still shocking. The fact that it is no longer a tangible space, but a series of memories, dreams and thoughts, of people that are no longer there. Only a few remain whose names I know like my Aunt Soraya, and street names like Salimi, where our apartment was. I spent my childhood summers on the rooftop, my only vantage point of Tehran and its Alborz Mountains — these are the remaining pieces of my past.

    But the desire to retain Iran, to live and breathe it again after 13 years of immigration is no longer present in my state of mind. Even in my heart, the door is closed. Only the tragedy of it remains – the legend of a country whose imprisoned writers escaped to tell the story. Even the dead faces of my mother’s siblings, the executed revolutionaries whose gravestones were demolished by the Iranian government with their souls forever banished— no longer haunt my dreams as they once did, though their names are permanently inked on my skin.

    Is this what forgetting is like?

    I looked at the bright orange moon, stagnant but powerful, in the shape of an imperfect half circle. I wondered what life would be like on the moon. Would it perhaps make more sense? I imagined not. I thought about the air I polluted, and I thought about letting go and the goodbyes I had endured over the years until all my thoughts became a mesh of smoke, rising above without ever solidifying. I bent my body backward, looking at the reversed sky, the shimmering stars falling into my open hands, and for a moment reality disappeared.

    Where am I? I wondered.
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