An immigrant’s heart is amendable. It sees a lot, goes through a variety of stages, changes, permutations. From one country to another, through different cities, towns, alleys, streets, corners, an immigrant’s heart is constantly moving.
An immigrant’s heart is always in battle, looking to belong, to love, to find a home. It seeks desperately and with passion, for it’s been torn from its homeland, from the familiar, the known. It seeks stability and certainty; it’s tired from being on the run.
Its wounds are open, never quite healed. Sometimes this heart begs for the homeland, begs for a familiar smell, a touch, even a name like the local pastry shop. But it learns, rather quickly, that there is no point dwelling on something long gone. There is no point in sorrow, in what’s lost, for the new heart has much to gain in the new land.
I have fallen in love, but only once hard. I’ve encountered possible loves, but they were only fleeting. My heart then learned to amend itself, to reopen and renew itself. I always think nothing is as hard or as bitter or as painful as immigration. If I can find a new country, a new language, a new version of myself that never existed before, if I can teach to love myself as two beings, if I can teach myself the confidence to use my freedom to become a version of myself I enjoy being, then I can amend a broken heart. It hurts still when I think hard about it. When I remember the memories we made, the words we exchanged, even the silences, it still hurts. But my heart refuses to close up. I won’t lock it up. I will forever love, and love and love.
I walked out of the J train the other day. It was early evening and suddenly I was shaken by a very familiar, sweet smell: the smell of the ocean and fire burning at the end of a summer night. It wasn't nostalgia for the Caspian Sea, but a comfort knowing that I was able to recall an old smell without wanting to burst into tears. It was a comfort knowing that I still remembered, but no longer with pain.
It's been a hard battle of the heart to learn to let go in a positive way. It's been 15 years of struggling, of amending, of recreating a different version of myself. It was always imperfect, the vision I had. I was constantly depriving myself of pride and joy, thinking I wasn't good enough, that I wasn't assimilated enough, that I didn't know enough, that I hand't accomplished enough. But enough was enough. I had to learn to love myself and accept that it would never be perfect.
New York has helped me find that love. I've challenged my heart and soul in many ways. And I feel at home now, alas. I feel more at peace with what I've become. I still long after love, I chase it and curse it for always being so fleeting. But as I am stubborn, I refuse to give up. I leave my immigrant heart open, and I let it breathe in all of which I witness and experience.
My immigrant heart always beats.