My relationship with my hometown has been complicated for a long time. I used to hate it, to see its people as unable to change, and its life stagnant and grim. It was the place that held me back and caused my loneliness. Tabriz was why I didn’t have a girlfriend, and why I couldn’t enjoy life and all its beauties. It was the reason I felt so isolated and couldn’t seem to get out of the quagmire I was in. This city was one of the many culprits of my shitty life. I hated it.

Then, I moved to Tehran. It wasn’t ideal, of course, and I never expected it to be. But the city was alive. It was huge, with all these people who lived lives that seemed so far from mine. Of course, I was mostly interacting with the rich, educated Tehranis, so I subconsciously ignored the poverty, the hurt, and the loneliness that prevailed in the capital. Hell, it was even worse than my hometown. And it took me five years to realize that.

These days, I am thousands of kilometers away from both these cities, in a continent far different from any place I have ever lived in. The people here party, listen to a lot of pop music, go on picnics in the summer, and walk their dogs with a content heart. These people are rich, even if they don’t know it, and the Iranian experience, no matter how much I or others write, talk, or sing about it, can never be truly understood by them.

But that’s not a completely bad thing. Being among these Westerners, I have come to understand my own cities better. And as therapy has lifted the depression I had sunk in, a light has shone into my memories of my hometown. It is no longer the cause of all my sorrows. It is a city filled with life, albeit also with its problems. It has history, culture, and a uniqueness that will forever be in my heart. Something that cannot be explained.

I’ve recently reconnected with the people I knew from there, and I’m reading about the great individuals that have emerged from it. Many of them lived within a less than half hour walk from my house. So much has happened in that city.

My heart aches that I had been disconnected from it. But then again, I was disconnected from everything. That’s what trauma does. Now, the light has come back. And it is beautiful.