What Is Good About Community? ( Author: Yassi Alipour)


It wasn’t to be the old worn out tale. It wasn’t to be the story of “ghorbat”, of “exile”. We drank and danced the night away and as the sun was coming up, they dropped me at the airport. The last cigarettes, the old jokes, and I left.

I didn’t come here to be nostalgic, to wallow in nationalist sentiments. I went back many more times and often, as the old crowd left for many other corners of the world. The years have been filled with new meetings, new arrivals, and even new set of farewells. The homelessness we carried seemed integral to our global new world and, together and as always, we remained beyond the scopes of its restrictions.

I write this to you today as I suddenly realize that for the first time, I am homesick and that I have been for a while now. Perhaps it’s the mirroring of my old trauma in the current political climate, perhaps it's refusing to come to terms with there being no outside to this senseless injustice, I don’t know, perhaps its seeing that they’ve attacked me because they deemed us to small, too weak, too inconsequential of a minority.

It was on the election day. I had spent the hour-long commute listening to the nationalist anthems, from “iran saraye omid” to “vatanam vatanam vatanam” to “morghe sahar” to “ey Iran”. I was chatting with an old high school mate in the odd Islamic center, the designated voting booth, high on hope and shocked by how simple it suddenly was to “be” here, among them. This is when I first of the event, enchanted and among jokes.

I don’t know you. I’m familiar with some of your names; share Social Media life with a few of you; and can safely say, share friends and acquaintances with the majority of you. And with a handful, I can say I have had the pleasure to share time, conversation, thought, tea, and presence. And indeed I have missed far too many gatherings and bar nights.

I’m not coming to make connections—though I wouldn’t mind if I do—as too much of my life in New York has been reduced to that. I would like to say that I’m coming to feel support and to believe that I will provide support when needed, but that’s all too vague. Furthermore, the thought of mingling with a large group of strangers terrifies me. And finally for better or worse, I’m tired of nation-states and all the harm they caused us, so I refuse to go to fuel my patriate deficiencies.

It’s just that under all these attacks, they’ve been trying to single us out and suddenly it seems like its working. It has started to feel lonely—while all my community is still here—and I’m becoming tired and scared.

I just want to be together.
To speak
And to listen
For one afternoon.