First Impressions

 Your intuition will always guide you and the universe will help you. I do believe that. 

This post comes from our Studio City store manager, Niree.

My husband and I met for the first time 17 years ago at an Armenian dinner dance.

You’re probably wondering “What exactly is an Armenian Dinner Dance?” Well, let me tell you. It’s basically a big party at a huge banquet hall where Armenian-Americans from all over LA would get together, mingle and have fun. I had just graduated high school and my friends and I were out celebrating. Our mutual friend Ani said, “Niree, meet Varand, he is my cousin’s good friend.” I said “Hi,” shook his hand, and went on my way. My first impression of him was a quick one — “nice smile and friendly eyes.” I was 18 and looking forward to summer. We shook hands and went our separate ways.

I had a certain view on dating that, looking back,  was established by the mentality I grew up with. My parents, who marked their 41st wedding anniversary this July 4th, believe in the value of education. As I was growing up, my mom would say, “You have your whole life ahead of you to accomplish whatever it is you want to do.” As Armenian-Americans, their parents came to the United States hoping to give their children a better life. They wholeheartedly believed in the American Dream, and having achieved that Dream themselves through hard work and education, they passed that mentality and belief on to their own children. My mom would also say, “Why would you want to endure high school heartache when you don’t want to be married with children by the time you turn 20?” She’d say that to us all the time, especially when a boy I liked didn’t like me back, or when a crush liked someone else. In hindsight she was probably trying to make me feel better about rejection but, at the same, time stating a valid truth. I didn’t want to marry young. Logically speaking,  why would I get emotionally involved with a boy that would only lead to heartache? Needless to say, I viewed dating in a very matter of fact way.
Fast forward 6 years, and I came across my now husband again at a friend’s wedding. I was 24, and he just turned 27. Life had already taught me how hard getting over your first love could be. It also taught me that I should never have dated a guy I was first friends with… So by that age, I had fallen in love once and experienced the heartache that followed it. I think that’s why they say your first love is something you don’t forget. It’s not so much about the person you fall in love with, but more so the feeling that love creates when you first find it. It’s a euphoric feeling, especially the first time it hits you. I remember feeling constantly optimistic, daydreaming about my first kiss, hoping he’d hold my hand throughout the movie, waiting for him to call me…it’s the feeling love generates within us that we are often addicted to. Once that feeling subsides and your subconscious starts creeping in, time becomes the ultimate truth teller. It takes time to see if you fit in each other’s world, and you hope the relationship you’ve built stays intact and keeps working. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t; mine did not. I remember thinking how weird it was to be with someone for so many months, letting him into your heart day in and day out, and then “erasing” him because you didn’t see a shared future. We ended it, but that didn’t mean it was easy to get over, because it definitely was not.
To say I was a bit guarded and unsure of myself when I was reintroduced to my now husband is an understatement. He recognized me from many years ago, approaching me as I was watching the dance floor. After a few minutes of chit chat and me stating “oh yes, that’s how I know you”….real smooth on my part, he asked if I wanted to dance. I looked at him, looked at that shiny dance floor, and took a leap of faith. That first dance led him to a note via Facebook, asking if he could take me out to lunch. What I forgot to mention to you is that, after we danced, I pretty much ran away — not because of his dancing skills (he actually had really good dance moves and I wouldn’t have cared regardless), but because I just didn’t know what to do. I was unsure of myself. We danced, I said thank you, then went back to my table alone. I  left the wedding that night without saying goodbye. I wanted to. His smile struck a cord with me. On my way out, I saw him outside with his friends, laughing and having a good time, and I just didn’t have the confidence to go up to him and say, “See ya around”…hint hint please ask for my number. I also saw him talking to other girls throughout the night and figured it was a lost cause to even try. So I didn’t…but he did. He asked if sushi sounded nice. I didn’t have the heart to say no…I didn’t want to be rude. His effort was something I really appreciated, so I didn’t want to make it any harder for him. Rejection can be debilitating if you aren’t sure of yourself, so I said, “Sure, sushi sounds great,” not letting on that I had actually never eaten sushi before. Let’s just say I should have been honest from the get go. Which leads me to THE DATE. The date that led me to delete his number.
Varand (you all can call him “V” for short) picked me up from work and headed to dinner. V asked if I wanted sake, to which I said “no,” because I had no idea what sake was. Ordering led to small talk, first date-type questions…or so I think. He asked me about my family and my journey, and I asked him about his. Let’s say after hearing his story and journey, mine felt miniscule. My husband was born and raised in the Middle East. His journey to the States was not something I was used to hearing at my age. I was lucky enough to be born in the U.S., along with all my friends, cousins and family. With the exception of my parents, aunts and uncles, the people I was surrounded with all had a similar upbringing. He shared his experience while taking sake shots. In my head all I kept thinking we had nothing in common, and it was bothering me that he was drinking alcohol on our first date. To make a long story short, I found him “too wild for me, and he thought I was “reserved” and overly “giggly.” He brought me back to work and said we would talk soon– I thought, “yeah right.” I actually went home and deleted his number. I knew he wasn’t going to call me and I wasn’t going to call him. We both felt that the date did not go well; it was an unspoken truth that did not need to be voiced.
Two days later, I got a call during my lunch break — the number looked familiar but didn’t produce a name. I picked up, worrying it might be my sister or mom, but turns out it was V. The first thing I thought — “Really?” How in the world was I going to get off the phone, asap? I had a sandwich and BBQ chips that I was looking forward to. He asked to see a movie. Shocked, I said “sure,” thinking I would go home and cancel. I mean, I had a really good sandwich to eat. I got home that night, and felt too bad to cancel. And the rest, as they say, is history. I’m so happy I deleted his number. If I hadn’t, I would never have picked up his call. I would never have known his work ethic, that he wanted to make something of himself despite all the challenges he faced, that he had learned English when he was 20 and was able to graduate with a degree in Economics, that he loved his family and spoke so highly of them, especially his Grandma whom he adored. I learned all these things on our second date. That second chance brought me a lifetime of happiness.
Do I think first impressions are important? Yes, absolutely. Your intuition will always guide you and the universe will help you. I do believe that. We gave each other a second chance. With that second chance, we got to know each other’s soul and, as cheesy as it sounds, we found forever.


  1. What a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing it, Niree. I’m going through a similar stage in my life right now so it’s nice to hear about your experiences!

  2. This is a very beautiful story. Not only about trusting your intuition, but also on how things always work out the way they have to for you in life :) This is amazing!! Long happiness to you both xx

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