I love my mom and I have no complaints about my upbringing, but I think we were just, like, running wild. I remember running around the city when I was really young. Getting on the tram unattended. Going downtown, running around. It’s not like here where you’re worried about what’s going to happen to your children.
For me it wasn’t too bad because I was traveling. I spent with theatre, from ’58 to ’68 – I was most of the time out of the country. I was in Poland twice, in Russia twice. In Russia, I was there a year and a half. To Bulgaria; I was in Hungary twice. Paris, one month in ’67. Paris was a jump to Miami.
Childhood in former Czechoslovakia was so pure. I was not touched by anything I learned later or read in newspapers about oppression during communism. I definitely felt very secure and safe and all those clichés about communism, that everybody is equal and there is no crime.
I didn’t like the idea of immigration, not only for myself, but also for other people. I thought that it is not the thing to do, that one should stay here and put up with the bulls**t here. So I don’t know how all of a sudden it changed. There are two things in my life that I was refusing or that I was not likely to do – it was my belief not to do them – two things: one is immigration, and the second is a country house. And I did both.
Prague is fun; it’s great. There were a lot of young people where I lived and I became more involved with the art scene there, and I’m very creative so I was writing a blog for SME [a newspaper] and it was all good, and I attempted to sing with a jazz band for a little bit and I attempted to do some theatre, as an actress.
So we joined someplace and went to this castle to support President Beneš. Oh yeah, many, many thousands. And some people from the streets also joined us and they were supporting us. Only the militia and the police stopped us there. We couldn’t talk to the president.
Talking about the politics, it was very tightly controlled by the government, by the Communist Party. You were told what plays you could produce and what you could not stage. You also had to produce a Soviet play, and a play that was so-called ‘progressive’ – that was a political propaganda play.
I no longer fit in. It’s a very strange feeling, which cannot be unique among emigrants, that when I walk in Prague I feel like a tourist. It’s the town I was born in, I spent the first 28 years of my life, and still I don’t know really how it works now, having been out of there for 45 years.
I have to say that there are some things I look at today with hindsight and I think to myself that we had certain privileges that we didn’t understand. We were completely shielded from a media culture. We were taught to question almost every message that we received from the outside which, while exhausting to live like that, it can also be very rewarding and I think it breeds a greater curiosity about the world around you.
Of course I knew America existed. I’d seen some movies. I was lucky enough from the environment where I was and within the art community to be able to get music, and more than probably normal people would, so I was exposed to that. I had this idea of a dreamy place where everything is just so nice and everything works and everybody has everything they need.