Her mother took her out of Iran when she was a child. She’s made her way in places as disparate as Amsterdam and Oklahoma, always searching for true identity.
A few nights ago, I met an old friend for dinner at an Afghan restaurant in the East Village. He came from his uptown finance job, wearing a suit and carrying a long umbrella. I came from a downtown café where I had been writing, my hair a messy knot. In terms of work, lifestyle, and interests, we couldn’t be less alike. And yet, ordering our food was seamless. Though we hadn’t sat down for a meal together in years, we assumed we would eat family style and chose the foods that belonged to both our cultures, the ancient stuff that both Persians and Afghans claim—eggplant stewed with lamb, basmati with raisins, yogurt and cucumber. Before long we fell into talk of his native Kabul and my native Isfahan with great nostalgia. Though we had each left as children under dangerous circumstances, we had never talked about it in any depth. We didn’t meet in an exile community, after all. He went to Harvard. I went to Princeton and we met as 22-year-old yuppies at McKinsey. Back then, we cringed at any mention of home.
Back then, we lied a lot.