Every time we speak to family or friends they invariably ask us one of four questions (often all four).
So, where are you guys now?
What are you doing there? As in, what are you doing there?
How long will you be there for? and
Where to next?!
Four months ago, while we were still melting in the sweltering heat of Tunisia, our answer to that final question was…Iran!
As neither myself or my husband are Iranian, I thought it would be fitting to explain how Mr Straggler and I came to be living in Tehran, and what on earth we’re doing here, besides being the occasional tourists.
First, a bit of background…
My husband and I met early in our humanitarian careers. Actually, we met even before either of us officially had a career in the international humanitarian sphere. This line of work usually spells disaster for relationships, especially in the early stages when you’re more or less obliged to accept any mission that comes your way, usually to a war zone, or to the middle of nowhere. But because we
are both stubborn both knew that’s what we wanted to do, we decided to pursue our career paths and passions, separately, at least for some time.
And so we lived apart, for several years, dragging through a long distance relationship. It sounds horrible, but it wasn’t all bad. Amongst other things, we learned to communicate effectively using Skype and super slow internet speeds. We saved a lot of money, and at the same time got to meet up in exotic locations every few months.
On the other hand, the weeks and months apart were pure agony. We did this for almost 5 years, interspersed with periods of blissful togetherness. Our longest stint together was in Georgia (the country, not the state) where we managed almost nine months before parting ways again to ‘save the world’.
In the end it all worked out! Our relationship, I mean, not our hopes of saving the world. At our wedding, we promised that we would stay together. On second thought I’m not sure if those actual words made it into our vows, but we did promise to support each other from here on out, whatever that might mean.
I realise that doesn’t explain in any way shape or form what brought us to Iran. But in a way it does. This is partly the story about how I became a Straggler and how we came to be in Iran. Allow me to connect the dots.
After marriage, knowing that our chances of getting a mission together were pretty slim (yes, we had tried for many years) I decided to change my career to better fit with this lifestyle we had chosen to pursue. I’m quite flexible in that way, and when I put my mind to something I can usually get it done. This time, though, I was really in the dark. It’s not easy to voluntarily leave a career that you love. But at the same time there are many things I love to do, so I knew I could eventually make it work.
Part of our ultimate plan is to, one day, maybe settle down. But until then, we continue to straggle and do our best to make ‘home’ wherever we happen to be at the time.
Most recently, this was in Tunisia. But we couldn’t find the motivation to extend our contracts beyond the 10 months we had originally committed to. Incidentally, Iran has always been on our bucket list of countries to visit, at least my bucket list. I’ve always been fascinated by Persian culture, language, landscape…the carpets. When my husband was offered a three-month mission to Iran, it was a no brainer. We were already there!
So here we are. I consider Iran a kind of last hoorah before we finally find a way to ‘settle’ down in this crazy world of ours. Being between jobs, I also have plenty of time to contemplate what it means to be a housewife and home maker, without a real home…yet.
To be honest, living in Iran hasn’t been the constant circus I was expecting. And by that I literally mean I was expecting busy streets humming with artists and colour. An assault on the senses at every turn. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that. It’s a completely different world out here.
Read more about our life in Tehran here.