Where are you from?
We are Armenian, my family, from Iran. Growing up, England was almost like going to the beach. We were always back and forth, back and forth. So I went to university in England, to Cambridge. And finishing school there in my teens, maybe between age 17-20.
You did that on your own?
My mom was still in Persia. I mean, I missed her, but it was every holiday I saw her, so all the time. And I came to have an English family I lived with, and my little sister Frida, she came and joined me there, so it wasn't so lonely. My husband now, he's very lucky, and he feels very lucky! Sometimes Frida lives with us, stays a while, and she is so beautiful! So he got the two of us when he married me.
How did you meet your husband?
Well, my husband, he was in the US Navy and stationed in Scotland. I was living in Brighton at the time, and we met on a flight to Rome for Easter one year. He says he knew when he saw me, that he would want to marry me. My daughter Ashley thinks it's creepy--it is maybe a little. He followed me all around the airport! I let him talk to me, and I used him a little bit; I had him carry my bag for me. But then I emptied it and left him to hold it while I went to the restroom, and then I never came back! But there he was on my flight, and we couldn't get away from each other in Rome because of the tours, so there it was. We talked a lot. After that, when we were back in UK, we would write to each other, and he would take the train down and visit me on long weekends.
What did your mother think of all that?
It was not what she planned for me! I told her, though, I did tell her. But I told her the way she would like to hear the story. I didn't lie about it, I just sugarcoated it for her. In the end she was very open-minded, yes; very open-minded about it.
Tell us about your mother.
My mom was a fashion designer, so we all grew up wearing couture. My father, too, was in that world. Even for simple things, she would spend hours and hours making something so intricate or putting different fabrics and colors together. We girls would go to picnics and everyone is just there in normal clothes and we would be the little fashionistas. It stays with me, the fashion and the love for it. I love London, too. Living there, shopping there, walking Oxford Circus and the high streets? Oh!
How are you different from your mother?
I don't know how I'm different from my mom. I can't think of anything! We are so much the same. But I don't design fashion, that's a difference. And everyone in my family, they make their hair blond, but I always love the red. Always red for me.
Now you have a daughter of your own. What was it like for you when she was born?
I felt like the whole world was mine. Ah, ah, and seeing her dance, oh! It was so fulfilling, I was so proud, and she was so beautiful that first dance recital! And all the times since. My heart.
How did you feel about raising a daughter in a country different than where you came from?
I never felt like it would be hard, raising her here. I'm from Iran but I was raised Western. It was easy. I just really wanted to impart important values to her, like respect. I drilled so much about respect, when she was a little girl, this other girl and her they were fascinated with each other, you know the way children are. But Ashley, she comes to me one day and this other girl, she was two years older than her. Ashley asked me, "Mommy, do I have to respect her? She's only two years older than me!" And I told her, you know, I think we have to give everyone respect, no matter how old they are or even if they are younger. Just what the respect looks like is different a little."
Do you feel like being a mother has impacted how you see your mother?
Just the same as Ashley is to me, I am to my mom. It is a wonderful thing.
Guest Writer: Heather Hill
Heather Hill is the Assistant Manager of donor acquisition & digital fundraising at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She is a graduate of Houghton College, and Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the Human Rights Co-Chair of the United Nations Association of the National Capitol Area, and you can find her performance reviews on MD Theatre Guide.