So, I've been tinkering with how to organize my thoughts on this so called adventure. While I'm not the most sophisticated writer, I am however, charmed by the idea of writing. So, I've developed the following, a series of what I've learned, in monthly installments, aka. chapters for your reading enjoyment. Don't worry, the anecdotes will continue, but by the end of this year, I'll have something to show for it, and something to reflect back on. So here it is:
Intro - “Reading Lolita in Tehran”
“The theme of the class was the relation between fiction and reality...
...Here and now in that other world that cropped up so many times in our discussions, I sit and reimagine myself...
...But to steal the words from Humbert, the poet/criminal of Lolita, I need you, the reader, to imagine us, for we won’t really exist if you don’t. Against the tyranny of time and politics, imagine us the way we sometimes didn’t dare to imagine ourselves: in our most private and secret moments, in the most extraordinarily ordinary instances of life, listening to music, falling in love, walking down the shady streets or reading lolita in Tehran.” - Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, Azar Nafisi.
And so it is, I in one country and my life in another, that I write this for you. Like so many authors before me, what can I write that hasn’t already been written? Much. I can write my experience, and I can write how my experience has been influenced by people, both real and fictitious. So, I will call on the great works that have framed my life. Like a painting, you, both artist and acquaintance, define my life. This is my life, and it is a work in progress.
I’ve always dreamed about returning to Spain. The memories of my first trip as a student while at BYU to Madrid in the fall of 2007, will remain some of my fondest reveries. While in Spain I flourished. For the first time in my life, I was free, but more importantly I was honest. Or, at least I began to be all of these things. What I have forgotten about my first trip in Madrid, is the pain. The pain of captivity by the lies which made up a facade, my life, which was not really my own. Like a carrier pigeon, I was allowed precious hours of freedom and flight, but was always to return to a cage. A cage which protected, but also prohibited me. For three years, I dreamed about returning, but without a cage. So, under the Auxiliares de Conversacion y Cultura, I was able to return to Spain in the fall of 2010, as a teaching assistant.
My story will be quite different from Nafisi. My story, like Nafisi’s will focus on the transitions between freedom and oppression, however, unlike Nafisi, mine will be focused on suddenly being free, rather than being captive. The freedom of being who we are, is just as distant for some in the “1st world power” as it is for others in a distant nation at war with itself. While both changes involve a change of governments, ideals, and practices, Nafisi saw her world change without ever leaving her home, as Iran was consumed in fell swoop of tyranny; For me, however, leaving my home was the only way for me to experience freedom of being, and therefore, change my world, at least the world as it presently exists.
Nafisi and I will share one crucial aspect in our stories. We will share the love of literature. Great works of literature, whether fictitious or real, are inherently didactic. And the characters, events, and morals form connections that develop and mix with our lives, becoming both intertwined and defined, in a way that can only be art.
Whether you are familiar with the works or not, my desire is that you will understand the themes and morals of each, as it relates to my life. I say that, because, meanings change with our lives. We come to understand each in a new way as we develop over the years. Even though the works remain the same, in this way, great works, like great lives change together. And so it will be...