Married for Iran Travel
Travel Plans to Iran
Let me start off by saying I never thought I would go to Iran. Or get married.
So when my Iranian boyfriend, Hamid, first came home to our small Istanbul flat and told me he thought we should get married to go visit his family in Iran, my heart almost fell out of my ass.
“Look, it’s simple. We get Islamic temporarily married and you don’t have to go through all the bull shit of booking a tour guide and paying all this extra money. You can stay with my family, I can show you around.” He looked so calm.
“This is the way it works in Iran, going around the rules. It seems scary, but it’s not. Trust me.”
Iran, A Trip of a Lifetime
Up until this moment I never realized how hollow my perception of this word actually was.
Though I knew myself enough to know that notions of the “axis of evil” contained more propaganda than truth, something inside me was still afraid to commit. After all, this wasn’t planning a trip to France. This was Iran. And I was American, the great devil. But my travel bug wouldn’t stop fidgeting within me. I couldn’t help thinking this was my ticket. This was the opportunity of a lifetime. And I was taking it.
Throwing caution to the wind, I was going to trust.
Two weeks later and I’m starting to reconsider my decision. As I’m sitting there, asking the imam again to repeat my marital promises in butchered Farsi, I imagine my American Christian mother’s cries to echo that of the wind. Her fists throwing wet punches on the window just outside the room as she yells at me to stop what I’m doing THIS INSTANT and come back home. And for a moment part of my “flight” mentality is tempted.
“Where was she born?” the imam asks in lethargic Persian, looking up expectedly at my new-husband while filling in the bureaucratic paperwork.
“Long Beach, California” he replies, still trying to suppress a laugh at the serious and unperturbed tone with which I just converted from single to married, Christian to Muslim.
An outspoken atheist, I’m afraid any type of mocking smile on his part will “out” us as pretenders, therein putting an end to my trip. It couldn’t happen—I’d already just finished doing the unthinkable. I’d already finished my performance, all that was left was for me to graciously accept my Oscar and join the after party.
Despite several clarifications the imam still writes Long Peach and proceeds to take another painful hour filling out my conversion sheet as a newly minted “Miriam,” the name I’ve chosen like a garment to carry me into this adventurous new life.
It’s in this moment, as my mother’s tapping at the mosque window increases that I’m left to wonder how I begin wondering for the first time how I’m ever going to be able to explain this situation to her. Especially considering for a period it was my mother’s worst fear that I was going to marry an Iranian man and take our babies to visit his family back home, only to find his true colors had changed and I no longer had custody of my children according to Shia law. A random, ridiculous, and unfounded fear to have I told her immediately at the time.
“It could happen Sydney, I read about it in a book once!”
She cautioned me long before I’d ever expressed any interest in travelling to the Middle East. My apprehension in telling her was therefore twofold, as I had to tell her not only was I going into the access of evil but that I was doing so as a married woman. Looking back now, I applaud her psychic foreshadowing.
Up until 6 months ago, I’d never even met an Iranian and now — here I was. Trustingly adding my signature next to his and planning a trip right into the heart of what I hopes wouldn’t be the future location of my government’s search party. This was either going to be the greatest trip of my life, or the worst. Either way, I’d get my story.
All I had to do was trust.
For Americans interested in travel to Iran.
Our writer, Sydney Paige Odell
My name is Sydney and I’m desperately trying to convince myself I’m just another cliched twenty-something with a passion for travel and a deep dedication to making it happen. I graduated last year from the American Dream with a degree in Unemployment with two minors in Debt and Crushing Self Doubt. Caught somewhere in between the annoying “go-getter” attitude and appalling laziness, I spend most of my time writing, reading, cooking, exploring, and screwing around on the internet for the best airline deals. I have currently placed myself in Istanbul, Turkey where I live with my Iranian boyfriend as a part time nanny and full-time street cat enthusiast. I’ve made a few trips over to Europe backpacking by myself, and am looking forward to exploring much cheaper parts of the world in the near future. Still trying to figure out what’s next in my life plan and how I can combine what I want to do with paying the bills.