We were a young couple with a baby, just moved in to a cute one bedroom walk up near the university with hardwood floors and south facing windows. They were the family that owned and ran the dollar store in a store front of the same building.
Warm, friendly and open, they quickly became real friends. I would stop to chat on my way home, or on the way out while the Boy played with the trinkets at eye level. Her name meant butterfly. From her I learned that Iranian women keep their names when they marry, unlike western tradition.
From him I learned never to confuse Farsi and Arabic. He was not an Arab, he was a Persian, and he was proud of it. “We were Persian long before Islam came,” he would tell me as if heritage were more important than religion. To them it was. They were nominally Muslim, mostly to keep the peace. But he kept his beer in the garage anyway.
He was an engineer in Iran. Here he was a shopkeeper. His wife, an accountant, kept them all afloat for a while.
Their adult son was an artist, but could never be content with that. It wasn’t a real job. He was studying forestry at the University also. He was discontent, and constantly searching for something more, or something that mattered. We talked long into the night after he closed up the store. We went to one of his exhibits, in the garage the GH renovated for them and turned into a suite. At one point the GH turned to him and asked, “So, are we your only white friends?”
It seemed we were.
They came to our home for dinner and the Boy’s first birthday party. We belly danced in the living room that day, and laughed and talked and laughed some more.
They were among the first to greet the Girl when we first took her from the apartment where she was born to meet the world.
But business was slow, and they sold the store. They took some trips back to Iran, and decided to move back there. Their daughter would stay in Canada and finish her degree, but the rest of them were to go back.
When I hear of Iran in the news, it is their faces I see. It is them I pray for. To me it is not just a bunch of crowd shots on the news. It is real people and friends and families. So let’s not forget them just because they are no longer a trending topic on twitter, OK?