Nathalie Kazandjian aka Nat K
(Canada, AVC ‘ 12)
The ‛Welcome Home Natty’ poster along with friends and family were what greeted me as I made my way past the Arrival gates of the Montreal Trudeau Airport. In that instant, I felt pretty good about coming home. However, as the days went by, the post-Armenia blues violently kicked in as soon as I found myself doing the same old things I used to do. Suddenly, things that seemed so familiar felt foreign and strange. It was a whole new culture shock but it was real and unfortunately, there wasn’t much I could do about it. The problem was not coming home to friends and family. The problem itself was leaving Armenia. For the little bit that I was back, I couldn’t even look at my photos nor talk about it for fear of being overcome with even more heartbreak and anguish than I already felt. I missed everything and everyone that belonged to my life in Armenia.
Before I know it, I found myself longing for Armenia. I missed waking up every morning to hearing my host mother say “ Parev parev garmir arev siroon jan”. I missed walking down 58 district to catch the marshrutka, 100 drams in hand and giving my regular Parev to the locals. I missed walking home from work and being greeted by the cutest little munchkins from my neighborhood showering me with hugs and kisses. I missed finishing the night off with a nice cup of MacCoffee alongside my host sisters while watching Armenian soap operas. I missed staying up with Nvartig, my baby host sister, till late at night drawing, coloring, playing cards, checkers, chess and teaching her English. I missed going to Ponchig Monchig and ordering a ridiculous amount of food. I missed going to the khorovadz place near the OLA center and engaging into a 45 minute conversation with the cook each and every time. I missed getting a ridiculous amount of daily texts and reminders from Allegra. I missed joining my Armenian brothers and sisters over weekend excursions. I missed running in the SAS supermarket and yelling like a crazy person “where’s the Ttvaser ?” before boarding our marshrukta to head back home. As well, as Heeng dzap, Marshrukta 9, besties crew, whatever your face, tracking down wifi, Le Cafe and Sevan’s inspirational speeches among many other things.
The desire to connect to people and the joy of making the connection was life affirming. The physical intensity of the excursions was invigorating. The time walking alone, listening to my own footsteps, sitting in the marshrukta watching the sunset, gazing at the stars was refreshing. Most of all, I long for the way I felt when I was in the Motherland. I felt alive, free, inspired and grateful. Man oh man does Armenia have a way with you. Each and every day there was a goal and an accomplishment that could be measured in different ways: in kilometers, in hugs, in the number of times I laughed out loud.
Although I was only gone for two months and while nothing has changed at home, everything has changed within me. Living in Armenia, gave me a deep appreciation of my life – where I live, where I work, my family and my friends. It also made me appreciate things that we too often take for granted such as the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, weeping eyes, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
To travel to Armenia is to truly take a journey within yourself. When we leave the comfort of home and everything that we have grown to be accustomed to, we often live more simply, with no more possessions than we can carry. We tend to surrender ourselves by becoming much more accepting to the twists, turns and little surprises that life has to offer. I came to Armenia searching for answers. Instead, I left in search of better questions. Sometimes, the unexpected is just what is needed to put life into perspective.
So here I am, back to my same old routine of stop and go, impatiently waiting to graduate just to start a new adventure. All the while feeling nostalgic about my time in Armenia which can feel heavier than the far too many pounds gained abroad.
When I think about it, perhaps the post-Armenia blues is something you can never truly let go of. For it that where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
To sign off, I simply cannot say goodbye to those whom I have grown to love, for the memories we have made will last a lifetime and never a goodbye. None of this would have been possible without Birthright Armenia & Armenian Volunteer Corps. For those of you who are thinking of joining the program, I encourage you to take a leap and go for it. Armenia 2012 always in my heart.