NEW JERSEY MONTHLY March 2015 31
“I was trying to control my daughter, the
way my mother controlled me.” (Lauren,
now 26, lives in Brooklyn and, Gorokhova
proudly relates, has embarked on a career
as a photographer.)
GOROKHOVA IS PLEASED that her daughter has shown an increasing interest in
her Russian roots, even taking Russian-language classes while attending the
University of Vermont. For Gorokhova
herself, maintaining a link to Russia is
not a matter of choice; it’s an undeniable,
indelible part of her, like a tattoo.
“I obviously adjusted to this country,
and I feel comfortable enough living
here,” she tells me. “I like living here.
And I would never go back to living in
Russia, because Russia today is abominable. But I think that being this Russian
soul, this Russian connection, will
always stay with me.”
Gorokhova senses a similar tension
among all the immigrants she teaches—
“mostly Hispanic kids,” but also Asians
and Arabic-speaking students—at
Hudson County Community College.
“I think every immigrant has a split
soul,” she says. Their scars bridge what
she calls “the divide of exile.” She is
supremely impressed with her students
and the stories they share in essays about
their paths to America. “These students
are the best in my college,” she says.
“Everyone envies me because I teach
immigrants. They want to learn English. They want to be [in the classroom].
They know that is their ticket to a better
life—speaking English, writing English,
I ask Gorokhova if she thinks she is
living the American dream.
“I think I’m living my own dream,” she
replies. “I think the fact that I was able
to write down what I knew, and it was
published and people actually read it, was
a dream to me.”
So what’s next?
Gorokhova says she is trying her hand
at fiction. The story she has in mind will
be based on her sister’s life as an actress in Russia. There’s no plot yet, and
Gorokhova seems uncertain if fiction is
“Andy wants me to write a book of
recipes,” she says with a laugh. “He thinks
it would be much more popular.”;
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