In those days past
when summer was the overriding season
our smiles were open
the cynical twists of the mouth didn’t exist.
There was no pain behind those eyes.
It was the Sobes and the Guccis and the core Chicago youth.
It was frisbee and cooking together,
moving in and out of dorms
and driving Lake Shore Drive at 2 am.
It was trips from the suburbs to the city
with analyzing and thought.
It was singing and praying and fixing the Center
It was CCA and UIC, trips to Louhelen in February
(lets spend Valentines day talking about college).
It was sisters and brothers, blood-bound or not,
and finding the people you didn’t know existed.
It was outward-looking orientation, before we ever heard that word.
It was service without asking “What’s in it for me?”.
It was volunteering at the House of Worship.
It was the beginning of the Chicago Youth Desk and the interns.
It was beaches and Ruhi book 7.
It was when the word “relationship” didn’t matter
and “crushes” were silent, beautiful things,
when Shakespearean love brought nothing but smiles.
It was dancing and late night calls to say “I’m sorry, did I offend you?”
It was mutual support and realizing it was ok to say
“I love you” without it meaning anything more than that.
It was the “one girl with all the guys” or
the “one guy with all the girls” but no one noticed.
It was all of the Chicago youth BLAZONING the name of Baha’u’llah,
and singing to the National Spiritual Assembly.
It was nearly drowning in the river and 24 hour diners.
It was Persian Conference and Greenlake,
and ninja videos shot in a Japanese garden.
It was jam sessions and crazy guitar serenades.
It was the Taste of Chicago and Erykah Badu,
the 3rd of July with fireworks on the beach.
It was the UofC and The Pit,
and all night talks about deep subjects.
It was dinner and movies and an intense lack of sleep.
It was when goals and dreams seemed realistic.
It was true friendship with that honesty and laughter…real connections.
It was joy and discovery, freedom from judgement and drama.
It was 2003.
And it made us what we are today.
(Neda & Sholeh collaborated to write this memory collection)