Falling in Love with the Iranian Girl
When I was a Ph.D. student I traveled to Naples, Italy for an aerospace conference. When I arrived in the lobby of the hotel, I saw this beautiful Arabian woman – she had silk-soft skin smooth as a baby’s face, shinning dark hair that smelled like an exquisite elixir from the Arabian Nights, and black liquid eyes that looked at me through a pair of rimless eyeglasses. Our eyes met for a second at the reception, and a shiver of terror and joy went through my spine. I didn’t dare say anything to her. All my life I was shy to the point of absurdity – probably that’s why I became a writer. I spend most of my days by myself, alone and thinking, safe in my solitary shell from the possible rejections in human interactions. People tell me I am not shy – but what do they know – I live inside myself, so I know better.
Anyway, one day at this conference, I was having coffee alone during a break when the same woman sat next to me at the table. In her late twenties, she was the CEO of a science research center in Iran, with a Ph.D. in space sciences. She told me a bit about her work – she was writing software to navigate the movement of satellites through space – we talked about science, but I don’t remember our conversation because my eyes were stuck to her cherry blossom lips through which flowed a sexy cocktail of British and Middle Eastern accents with a flavor of mint . We talked for a while, and then we said goodbye.
Later that evening, I invited her and a couple of my old friends from the days when I studied at NASA, to dinner. We were in the heart of Naples, and so we covered our table in large pizzas and beers. As hours passed, our conversation shifted from science, to travel, to stories of love, to stories of heartbreak.
“Dragos forgot to introduce us” said one of my friends to her. “I’m Jordi. What’s your name?”
“Shalizeh” she said, transforming herself before my eyes into an Arabian princess from ancient tales.
Jordi – a handsome lawyer from Barcelona and, as I later found out, a famous rock star that toured the world and played stadium shows with his metal band in his free time – had told us his story of breaking up with his fiancee only weeks before. Eirini, a beautiful business woman with a brilliant mind from Greece told us how she dated a guy for a year, and when they broke up he sent her all the receipts for the condoms he had bought during their time together, asking her for the money back (I know, I didn’t believe it and she couldn’t believe it either when it happened but it’s true). She refused to reimburse him the money because of the obvious mutual benefits. Shalizeh told us how difficult it is to find a loving and sincere guy in today’s world, and I didn’t say anything because I was falling in love with her, and my girlfriend from Romania was flying in the next day. I fell in love with her that evening when she recited for me the poems of Rumi – the mystical poet of the 13th century – in Persian. I had read Rumi’s poems in English before and the lyrics bring you closer to God, but when Shalizeh recited them in Persian, Heaven’s doors opened and she welcomed me inside:
بیتو شود، سر به همگانبی نمیشود سربه
دگر جای دلم، این دارد توداغ نمیشود
I had no idea what she said, but her voice sounded like angels reading a poem written by God. During the few seconds it took for her to recite the poem, I saw the two of us riding a camel in the desert at sunset with her gentle arms tight around my body. I saw us camping at night, just the two of us alone under the Milky Way in the vastness of the desert, holding hands by the fire, her head on my shoulder, and listening to her voice whispering Sufi poems in Persian about love and the Divine. The midnight hour found us making love in the tent, only our naked shadows, mingled and embraced, to be seen from outside, reflected by candle light. The night’s sky was the only witness to our love.
When she finished the poem, I was pulled back in Naples, with her, my friends and pizza left-overs around us. When you have a dream, when you want something from your soul, the Universe opens the door and you must pay attention. If you don’t walk in when you have the chance, the door closes, and sometimes it stays closed forever. Shalizeh went to her room and I didn’t dare say anything to her. All my life I hated being shy because I recognised the doors opening, but I never dared to go through them because I was afraid. My body stood paralyzed at the sight of women I had fallen in love with, while my heart begged me to dare and say hello. Fear ruled and my heart had to live with regret. After dinner, I went to my room and spent one hour in bed typing and deleting, typing and deleting a message to her, asking if I can go to her room and see her for a minute. I went to bed angry with myself, knowing that she will probably read my message the next morning before she left for the airport. One more time, I had to sleep away the anger I had grown for myself.
When the universe opens the door for you, don’t wait. The fear of the moment is not worth the devastating regret. She responded in a few minutes, saying she would love for me to see her, but I had fallen asleep.
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