I just finished reading Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni. Moaveni had Iranian parents but grew up in San Jose. She lived and worked in Iran as a reporter for Time magazine and tried to figure out who she was and where would she feel at home. She knew that she always felt like an outsider in the U.S. but she was surprised that Iran couldn’t feel like home either. Lipstick Jihad would be an interesting book even if it wasn’t set against the backdrop of the reform movement going on in Iran in the 90’s. As Moaveni says
"All of our lives were formed against the backdrop of history, fated to be at home nowhere – not completely in America, not completely in Iran."
Because of this "backdrop of history" Lipstick Jihad is a fascinating book. I especially like that Moaveni helped me understand the complexities of the American Iranian relationship. It is not black and white. Iran is not evil and the U.S. good. Moaveni does not have an an answer to who is right and wrong in Iranian American relations but she did help me learn about Iran and Iranians.
The other thing I really liked about this book is that the theme of trying to find home is really a universal one. Because Moaveni was caught between America and Iran her search is a particularly interesting one but I have learned that we all try to find where we belong and at some level are always searching for home.
I experienced this when I was 13 and my family moved to Australia. I loved Australia but I missed home. It was an important lesson to learn that coming back to the U.S. I didn’t really feel at home either. I didn’t want to move back to Australia but it would always be a part of me. I feel the same way about Reno and Sunnyvale. I miss Sunnyvale and Reno doesn’t quite feel like home but I don’t want to go back to the Bay Area.
Lipstick Jihad reminded me that what I have to do is work to remember all the people and places that are part of my history and move forward recognizing that they are all part of who I am. I think this is true for all of us whether we have moved from Sunnyvale to Oakland, across country or even just to another place in our lives like from the work world to retirement or from college to the work world. Home is something we create with the help of our memories and our friends and families, as Moaveni says "we carried its scraps in our pockets, and when we assembled, we laid them out, and were home."