No one enjoys this part of moving. No one truly enjoys taking a survey of what you have and deciding what isn’t coming with you. It’s an unenviable task that many are unfortunate enough to experience. While many are fortunate to have so many possessions in the first place, it doesn’t make it any easier to toss them aside.
My father lost his job. A typical downsizing after his company merged. Twenty-three years of loyal service, but they only need so many managers and his position was considered redundant. The word alone strikes an emotion of emptiness and lack of merit or worthiness. Redundant. Needless to say, it came as quite a shock to my mother and me. He’s the breadwinner of the household and now we probably won’t last too long before the payments go unpaid.
He decided on the most responsible course of action, which is to move. We, too, would be downsizing. The new place was much smaller, so the list of things we couldn’t take with us began to grow. That couch where I opened my first Game-Boy on my 5th birthday, the table that still definitely has a blood stain on the corner from my head falling into it, and even that lamp that has been glued together more times than we can count would all have to either stay here or be sold.
My mother started going through a box of old photos that had been in the top of her closet for a few decades.
“Oh my,” she said.
“Is it an embarrassing photo of Dad?” I asked.
“No, no. Come, Ali, let me show you,” she said, waving me to sit next to her.
She handed me a photo of what I now know to be Azabi Square in Tehran, Iran. It was an old photo showing a large crowd gathered under the towering structure.
“This is revolution.”
Her voice had somewhat of a stammer as she explained to me where this photo came from. She said that her and my father were there with my uncle. She had so much pride, I honestly thought she was glowing. She told me what they were fighting and the difficulties that they were having in the country, but explained that in their hearts, they actually didn’t agree with the revolution, not entirely. In many ways, it made the country a better place, but they still felt they could find better lives in the U.S.
My mother’s brother, my uncle Gaspar, stayed even past the fall of the Shah. She misses him terribly, but after they moved, he never spoke to her again.
Her eyes began to swell up with tears. She put the picture face down on the coffee table.
I never learned about this in history classes, my mother never spoke much of Gaspar, and I certainly never saw my parents as demonstrators, but here we were. We sat, about to take the life that I’ve known so far and condense it, while all this time my parents had made a sacrifice ten times more significant just to be here today.
My father entered the room.
“Ali! Why is your mother in tears?”
I picked up the photo and handed it to him.
“Heavens,” he said, “I haven’t seen this photo in thirty years.”
“Do you remember?” She asked my father. “Do you remember all of this?”
“Of course I do, Farah.”
“Do you remember Gaspar? He laughed at us.”
“He spit on my shoes! He was so sure that they were going to be better off after the revolution.”
My parents both went silent. They bowed their heads. Then my father turned to me.
“Ali,” he started, “I need you to understand something.”
My father was never the warm and encouraging of the two of my parents, but that was just his way of being the enforcer, the unwavering patriarch of our family.
“We came here for a better life. We came here for you. Gaspar was not wrong in what he did. Those who marched and those who gathered, they were not wrong, but their change was going to take time. Your mother and I had different plans.”
He sat next to my mother and grabbed my hand.
“We come from strong blood. We will find a way to get through this unfortunate financial situation. If there is anything that I have learned since we moved to this country, if we are not family, we are nothing.”