Yerevan State of Mind

Elina Sarkisian
(Toronto, Canada)

As I am writing this blog, it has been exactly 3 months and 1 day since I left Yerevan. I left with no proper goodbyes and no last walk down the streets of my beloved city. Since somehow I Knew I would soon be back to the same Hanrapetuyan Street. Emotions are building up, memories are revisited every time I go through my agenda, phone book, concert and museum tickets, postcards and most of all pictures- pictures of places, people and moments.

I arrived in Yerevan on a cold March day and for a moment I thought “what would I really do here for the coming months?”. Yet, 3 months were not enough. 3 months were only the beginning of feeling comfortable to where I truly belong.  Now only 3 months later, I feel the urge to express my impending longing to be back home. Yerevan, for me now is home. I have never felt home before; being born in Syria, growing up most of my adulthood  in Montreal and lately living in Toronto made me feel like I was always “homeless”. Now I came to the realization that it is not where you are born, nor where you actually live that makes you call somewhere home. I now understand, home is where you feel comfortable, where you feel like you belong. I belong in Armenia!

Over 3 months, I  built a very special bond with Yerevan, as I started going on dates with the city and to explore it further, I never wanted to take the local taxis, as I believe the best way to learn about a city is either to walk through the streets or take public transportation (Marshoutni-s). I can never forget every morning taking my long marshoutni ride to work watching Mount Ararat as if it was my first time ever seeing it. Even though during late morning and afternoon hours were not the best hours of grabbing one, I had no choice but to take one on my  way either home or to my favourite pastry shop. Pastry and bakery shops were my favourites in the city, at almost at every corner of a street you could find one. Yet, I must be blessed that my favourite one was on my way to wok. On my first day to work on Amiryan Street I discovered a modest pastry store and ever since then, I always had to make that first stop at the shop.  At some point I became familiar with all kinds of bakhlavas, cakes and tehkvastk displayed on the counter. The yummy, sugary, fresh, mouth- watering smell, would make it so tempting to not enter and try one of them while passing by. Such simple pleasures as being confused by which bakhlavas to choose from or going to Artist’s vernisage next to the Opera House made me realise how much I have in common with this city.

Weeks earlier as I was going through my jewellery box, I came across a pair of earnings that one of the teenage girls at Zangakatun center made for me as a souvenir. Now I think of Sona and of my last day at the center, and I realize that I not only built a relationship with Yerevan, but also with those who actually live there. Now I know I have friends and people who look forward to seeing me again. Working with the most vulnerable children at Yerort Mas district and after my visits to the residence camps in Vanadzor made me appreciate my life and my childhood more, it opened my eyes to many realities I was unaware of. Thanks to Birthright Armenia and AVC, I got the chance to learn everyday something new about life in Armenia.  And now I am here in Toronto City and I cannot help but live in a Yerevan state of mind!


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