Today is my one year anniversary with Armenia. One year is a pretty huge milestone in any relationship, and to me it signals the end of the honeymoon phase, well at least as far as shorter relationships go. This anniversary is especially important to me because one year and five weeks ago I sat on my best friend Betsie’s living room couch. It was a Monday, and I hadn’t even received my official invitation yet, but I had found out on Friday that I would be leaving in just over a month’s time. I had known for about two years that I was going to be in the Peace Corps, but my official invitation always got delayed or rescinded so at one point it stopped being real to me. When I was told that I’d be leaving so soon, I had expected to leave in September; I just about had a panic attack. Fear overcame me, and for a few days I just shut down completely. I remember Betsie and I talking about the future and me admitting to her that I wasn’t sure I could leave. I had a “what the heck am I doing” moment, and was frozen with fear. With only about a month to get my affairs settled, and say goodbye to my job and my family, I really didn’t have time to freak out. So together Betsie and I decided that I would go and give it a try, worse comes to worse it would just be a vacation. Even in the best case scenario we decided that after a year I would most likely come back home. I just remember thinking, I can give up everything for one year, but two years and three months, it’s just too much!
So today is the mark of when I told myself I could quit if I wanted to, I have officially been in Armenia for one whole year. I haven’t seen the faces of any of my friends or family for a whole year!! For a girl that went home to see her parents every other week, and would call her sister and brother on a daily basis begging them to come hang out, this is a huge deal to me. It’s hard to even remember what the life that I use to live was like.
The one that included taco Tuesday’s with my co-workers, fro yo date nights with my best friend, weekly dinners and game nights with my sister, concerts with my brother, movie nights with my dad, lunch with my mom, and unconventional date nights with my boyfriend. I remember that I use to complain that I was an obsessive compulsive planner. All I would want was a day where I could stay home and read but somehow I always ended up making plans.
Now here I am in Armenia a year into my service and I see Americans about once every other week, sometimes once a month. Pretty much after Sophie and I go for our evening walk at about 5 all face to face social interaction is done for the day. I interact with students more than I do with adults now, and most of my conversations take place on facebook chat. My life now is about as different as could possibly be from my life a year ago. And while there are days when I miss my family and old life so much that every breath feels labored as if all my love for them is on top of me, putting pressure on my chest, suffocating me and forcing me to feel their absence, most days I am perfectly content here. People always ask me why I am here and don’t I get bored here, and the truth is of course I get bored but sometimes it’s nice to be bored when you compare it with the overload of activities that keep us constantly moving back home.
So here I am one year into my service and I am surprised to discover I have absolutely no intentions of going home anytime soon. I’ve been told that the second the plane set down in Armenia other volunteers had a bet that I would soon go home. I think it mostly had to do with me having dislocated my jaw and being completely miserable my first week in country, but the truth is the moment I got here I feel in love and have never looked back. I feel blessed to be able to live the life that I am living now, to have made the friends and family that I have made here, and to work where I am working now. The truth is I can leave at any time I want to, but as I have recently found out, even if I was asked to leave, I would fight with everything I have to stay here because this is my home now, at least for the time being.
So thank you Armenia for being an amazing place for me to call home in this past year. The memories I have made and will make here will never be forgotten.