Friday was the longest night of the year, a holiday observed by the watered down decedents of the Persian Empire by staying up late reading poetry with our families. We didn’t celebrate this year, but today some Iranians I had never met before came to my mother’s apartment. They admired the bulbous brass lamp hanging above the dining room table (now housing a light bulb instead of an oil dish), the old tile on display, a samovar. We drank tea from small glass cups rested in silver holders and discussed the ill-preserved Empire from which they had emigrated and the cherished objects imported and restored in the years since.
It was a valuable lesson in zero waste and recycling.
If the fragile inlay of a mosaic picture frame buckles in the humidity of this non-desert land, wet it down to mold it back into place. Worn antique embroidery should be protected behind glass and mounted on walls. Draw the shades when leaving the house to keep the sun from bleaching silk-woven carpets. Miniatures of kings holding court, couples reclining and horses charging can be displayed in shadow boxes built from small shelves covered in black velvet and fitted to a large antique frame. Simple Persian bedspreads can be cut and sewn around cheap pieces of foam to create a luxurious Bedouin effect in any living room, much cheaper than purchasing furniture when one first arrives in a new country.
I looked around at the things that covered the floors and shelves and walls of the rooms I grew up in and saw them for the first time as symbols of a nomadic culture, started long ago on another continent, but carried on by me and my sister as we dutifully cart our carpets and picture frames from one New York apartment to the next. These things were built to weather skirmishes and sand storms. They were designed to be portable. And to last.