Last year, my dad celebrated 50 years in America. He arrived in the US the same day as the Beatles. In honor of that milestone, I wrote a piece that ran in Huffington Post’s blog section. You couldn’t really say it went viral like the Honey Badger, but it did receive a great deal of attention. It was even read by Senator Rand Paul, who wrote a brief note expressing that he had enjoyed the piece.
By the time the dust had settled, the piece had been liked over 1,500 times, tweeted and retweeted, shared on multiple platforms, and even condensed for publication in my hometown paper. My dad’s financial planner had the article framed and presented to my dad as a gift.
But, honestly, I was most nervous about how it would be received in the Iranian-American community. The Iranian-American community can be brutal in its response to personal stories like my father’s. But instead of having my worst fears realized, the community’s reaction was one of jubilation, delight, and unfettered support. I couldn’t have been more thankful.
Now, as I’m nearing my four-years-in-DC milestone, I’m finally doing what so many have suggested from the very beginning. With Bourbon and Chai, I will explore my life growing up Persian in Kentucky. I will attempt to navigate readers down a windy path of self-discovery that is equal parts funny, emotional, and perplexing.
My goal is to post one story a week until the end of the year. And if the response is positive enough, I’ll keep going until I run out of things to say. Who knows, maybe there’ll be a book involved.
I do apologize, if in my attempts to recall something from memory, I make any factual errors. If I come across a point where my memory is fuzzy, I will try to make note of that for the reader.
And there will be times when I will critique certain aspects of Iranian/Persian culture, which I’m sure will ruffle some feathers. Nonetheless, please don’t take too much offense. I want you to know that I am simply writing from my perspective and the reader shouldn’t take it as me attempting to be definitive of any particular aspect of the culture.
But I also want to make it crystal clear for the reader that I am not just writing as an Iranian. I’m writing more as a Kentuckian who just so happens to have a father who is Iranian and a mother who was born and raised in Kentucky. It is vitally important that the reader understands that that is what forms the foundation of my identity.
I spent the better part of my first 28 years on earth living in Kentucky, yearning to embrace my Iranian-ness. It had been stifled for many reasons, most of which I intend on discussing throughout the project. It took moving to Washington, DC to finally be able to explore what it means to be Iranian or at a minimum how that fits in to my overall identity narrative. Again, that doesn’t make my identity any less Kentuckian or any less American, it simply means I’m able to have a more nuanced understanding of my identity.
This project is an exploration of all aspects associated with my identity, which can’t be summed up in a single word or adjective. We’re more than just a one word answer. I hope that at the end, whenever that may be, I’ll have come to some conclusion about how all my different identifiers interact, clash, and coexist. But there’s part of me that thinks that it’ll be just like any Iranian movie and at the end we’ll be left with more questions to ponder—which might not be a bad thing.