There’s something about her eyes that drew me towards Daria Etezadi. They’re big, brown, gorgeous and Persian, as I soon found out. They’re innocent, kind and open. There was something more though, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on until much later. Like her, they’re watchful. I’m used to being the one watching others, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that no one else is noticing.
She’s not a wallflower – no she’s got too many ideas and opinions for that. She’s a bit of a hipster, and I can confidently call her that because she’s never asked for a label herself (nor do I think she’d necessarily agree). She loves instagramming and isn’t afraid to show how passionate she is. She’s a self pronounced “journalism dork”, and she works it. She hates skirts but likes dresses, and her effortless style is just that – effortlessly tossed together without much of the typical girl self-obsession. She’s a bit of a chameleon, jumping into the conversation loudly one minute and disappearing into the crowd the next, and that’s not just a metaphor.
I find myself making a list describing Daria as I try to pin her down, figure her out in my head. But like she told me herself,
“There’s not a lot more to me than what you see. I am who I am.”
Such honesty in itself is exceptional and rare. But I promised a story, so I’ll try my best for just that.
On the first night at WJMC, after unpacking and registering and navigating our way through the chaos, most of us were tired and whiny. I struck up a conversation with Daria complaining about the fact that there was no easily accessible coffee shop, and she quickly pointed out the irony of that problem in a conference for journalists. A couple hours and a (quite honestly) terrible cup of coffee later, everyone was about ready to pass out. Daria was looking around and I asked her if she’d lost something or needed help getting somewhere. No, she said, she was looking for her journalism teacher who had also come to the conference from their hometown of Santa Barbara, CA. I told her she’d probably get to see her and say hi later tomorrow and not to worry about it because it was so crowded. No, she said again, she wasn’t worried about that. She was worried about her teacher, who she knew gets stressed after long travels and would be additionally taxed having to take care of a whole group of rowdy teenagers she barely knew. She wanted to make sure she’d be okay. I was so surprised that after having gone through such an exhausting day herself, she was only thinking about the well being of another.
That’s who Daria is, I guess. Well no – that’s part of who she is. She’s also a witty conversationalist, an eager and passionate learner, and completely comfortable in her own skin. She’s a Fresno girl at heart. She’s an aspiring human rights lawyer who hopes to help those who are oppressed and in need. The list goes on, but there’s only one more I’d like to add: she’s a good friend, whether she knows that or not. She’s given me a new perspective, and she’s well on her way to changing the worlds’ perspectives too.
Shalom, Daria. Mamnoon.