A Palisadian Perspective

Maryam Zar Reflects on 2018

By MARYAM ZAR | Contributing Writer

As we stare down the passage of time yet again, with a new year looming, I’m prompted to look back—as many of us are—at the year that just flew by.

Twelve short months ago, I was contemplating the balance of gifts versus experiences to give my kids for the holidays. I settled on a little Off White and serving a Christmas dinner at LA Family Housing.

This year, I am performing the same balancing act: looking for the right experience to remind my kids never to take anything for granted, and still offering them the inherent rewards that come with having parents who work hard and strive to provide them with perks as best they can.

As I do, it occurs to me that I’m no different than countless moms around the world who work their tail off to provide, then straggle home exhausted, only to conjure the second wind to be a loving parent.

I fail at my balancing act enough times to remember how hard it is for so many others around the globe who scarcely have the support structure I enjoy—in a safe and stable community like the one I’m lucky enough to call home.

But Pacific Palisades is no homogenous enclave of fortuity. This uniquely grounded community is surprisingly home to multi-national residents, replete with varied life experiences.

Just a few weeks ago, my husband and I were having dinner at one of the new bistros in town and struck up a conversation with the couple at the table next to us. They were Croatian. At the time, I was planning a trip to Czech Republic and Hungary, so we had a discussion about Eastern Europe.

I shared with them that not long before that night, I had a conversation with a Palisadian lawyer friend who had traveled across Eastern Europe to teach law at various universities. My husband shared the story of having his appendix taken out in Macedonia on his trek across the globe as a young man, and one of our conversation mates shared her own adventures heading out of Croatia as a young woman.

Turns out their kids go to same schools as mine and even know each other. Who knew that my Persian-American kids went to school with Croat-Americans?

In fact, we recently had a local dinner with a group of couples, and at one point, I realized I had a Finn sitting to one side of me and a Spaniard to the other. So many of our local friends are British or French, and of course, a sampling of Middle Easterners and Asians is par for the course.

For someone who has traversed three continents to land here in this particular corner of the world, I’m grateful for the enrichment this town offers my children and me.

It’s so easy to assume that Pacific Palisades is a uniform town with little diversity. It’s also easy for my kids to take on a “brown” identity in this modern world where the differences between people are highlighted long before our common bonds are celebrated.

But I hope this year, they can hold their head high and be proud to be part of the texture that makes this town rich.

This year, I think I’ll make the opportunity to remind my kids that diversity is enriching and this wonderful town, which attracts a unique global populace, is a micro-melting pot they can call home.

Maryam Zar, J.D., is chair of the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils, commissioner of LA Commission on the Status of Women, founder of Womenfound, delegate of CA State Democratic Party and a writer for the Huffington Post.