A Letter to the US

It has taken 37 years to come to terms with our relationship. And I am still tortured by it.
How strange, the feeling of relief and fear I feel every time I return to your shores? As the plane descends on New England, I am overcome with emotion–love for the deep, dark ocean shoreline, joy at seeing those I love most–but also anxiety. The abrupt, military questioning of your border guards, the suspicious way I am questioned–how I hate that. You are my mother! After all this time…how could you treat me like that?
And this, more than anything, characterizes our relationship. A love/hate relationship. How I love the amnesty you’ve shown the masses coming to the shores, the progress in humanities and sciences, the passion of your people to push forward.
If it weren’t for your violence and lack of humanity, I would never doubt you. But violence is the hallmark of your history–it shaped the borders and still determines the size of the military and prisons around the country. You show no mercy to the poor or the indigent. How I hate that.
But you are my mother–only I can say this. When others utter these words, I am filled with anger. And honestly, I will come home. Because these other places aren’t the paradise I wished for either.

Oh America–do something great again, so I can defend my choice to return to you.

Love,
PersephoneImage

A Letter to Iran

A Letter to Iran

Dear Iran,

You overwhelm my senses like no country ever has. Tart pomegranate paired with smoky walnut; the vibrancy of your turquoise and maroon art and architecture; the steady beat of a hand drum, contrasting with the strain of a setar– it is so, so beautiful. And the mountains–the mountains! Their mighty presence leaves me in awe.

But I struggle to decipher not only the script of your language but also the cultural script of your  people.  There are so many contradictions…where to begin? The extremely well-educated women who cook and hand wash dishes until late in the night to please their husbands–YES, their husbands. The friendly people who ask what you want and then ignore the answer and tell you what to do. The poets and film makers who make brilliant art within your borders right before fleeing. The crazy proclamations from your government…I don’t get it.

Yet I feel a strong need to defend you here in the West. They don’t get you here, but for different reasons. They don’t see the people behind the media, the crowds of poor going to an anti-American rally for the free food being offered, the shy old woman who wears the headscarf for privacy, the diversity in your cities, the amazing dance parties behind closed doors.

I am Iranian by marriage and the mother of two American-Iranians. You will always hold a place in my heart–help me show the world how wonderful you can be.

Love,

Persephone

A Letter to Germany

Image

Dear Germany,

I’ve been writing this letter in my head for a long time.

I want to love your culture–really I do. But if you keep telling me 1) how to yawn, 2) what to name my child, 3) how to ride my bike, 4) how to speak my native language, 5) how to play mini-golf, I am going to tell the world how y’all suck.

True story–your people have tried to school me not only on the points listed above, but on many more besides.

I’ve had it. I’m close to breaking up with you. And it’s hard, because we’ve been together since I was 14 years old. That moment I walked into Ms. A’s classroom–the fantastic posters of half-timbered wonders, the amazing hope as we watched the fall of the Wall on TV, not to mention the strange parallels you shared with my native English–I was spellbound.

Then I had the great fortune of meeting not one, but two soul mates while within your borders. Granted, one couldn’t claim German citizenship (yet), but still, he was close enough.

Overtime, though, the sheen faded and I began to resent the way you regulated me to the “American” category.  And then I began to resent your take on the American category.

But you don’t seem to realize why your take on America is so wrong.

See, the US  isn’t *just* Starbucks, GMOs, spying, drones, terror, prisons, income inequality and obesity. Truth is, there is a thriving civil rights movement (ACLU, for example), many social movements (Head Start, WIC, etc), a Green movement (Jill Stein, CFAs) and a constant debate there about the quality of life. I know because I’ve worked in these movements and/ or participated in these activities.

And actually, ain’t all roses and sunshine here, the eastern side of the Atlantic.  I can think of at least four issues (bullying, rape, attacks on women’s rights, attacks on worker’s rights) that are  prevalent in Germany. Germany has a raging bullying problem in schools (WITH violence, including a huge school shooting years ago), a problem with under-reported child abuse, and a real lack a lack of women in higher positions (you are a “Rabenmutter” if you don’t stay at home). Look at any report from Verdi to hear about problems with work–most result from “limited” (befristet) contracts that end so they can get someone cheaper. That is how my husband lost a job.

Then there is the anti-immigration sentiment here (no Gypsies, please!), the anti-abortion movement (not after 12 weeks!! And only after “counseling”) and gay rights (marriage is still not recognized, it is a civil union)–shall I go on? You do realize these are *Republican* issues, don’t you?

Oh Germany…what should I do?  When I look at the Elbe, so close to where I am living now, I don’t see “green” and “wonderfully beautiful panoramas”, as the Hamburg press likes to put it. Instead, I see mighty ships sailing out and into the world, without me. They obscure the views and pollute the water and leave the country. Like I should? Oh Germany…

Love,

Persephone

Who am I?

I’m been wandering through the US, Germany and Iran for almost 20 years, trying to find the “right” place.

I’m in a strange marriage that I can’t quite leave…yet.

I love my teaching career but hate all the craziness that goes with it. I can’t help wondering if there is something I am missing.

I love my two children above all, yet feel oddly trapped at times. I don’t want to wish them big, but sometimes can’t help myself.

When all the above becomes too much, I lapse into anxiety and depression. I am fighting this with every weapon I can muster.

I’m looking for empowerment so I can break free of the prison I have largely imposed on myself.

I love the symbolism in the Persephone story–trapped in the underworld, she emerges 6 months a year. Demeter, her mother, then ushers in Spring. I am looking for my Eternal Spring–this is where I explore that possibility.