Sitting on a marshuka on my way to Vanadzor, Ipod held tightly in my hand, skipping amongst my favorite Adele songs I crouch into the window, trying to blend in, but knowing that it’s not really possible. The most I can hope for is that my music can carry me into oblivion, that when a group of girls standing nearby start laughing at me, that I won’t notice, that I won’t start to wonder what it is that I am wearing that they don’t approve of today. I stare out the window, and nod my head along to the music, tapping my feet, and enjoying the beautiful hills and wildflowers that have exploded all over the place just within the last few weeks. This is a trip that I make every few weeks, but the beauty of it never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes I feel like my dad, all those times we would go on long drives and he would point out the beauty in the world as I would roll my eyes; only I have no one to point it out to. So I smile to myself, aware that others are watching me, and most likely thinking I am a bit crazy, but I don’t really care. Purple, pink, yellow and green spin around me, filling my soul up with gratefulness, something I have been lacking lately. I look around the bus, wondering if anyone is sharing this feeling with me, wondering if their breath has been taken away by the beauty of their country. Hard stares return my glance, I don’t look away. I return their frown with a smile, trying to spread some of my cheer, but their reality starts to press upon me. The reality of trying to make a better life for yourself when you know there aren’t many opportunities for you because of where you were born. I can see the worries on their faces. The young mother worries about her husband working in Russia, wondering if he will send enough money for her to get by, and trying to suppress the emptiness she feels without him. The young man consumed with how he will make his life better, where can he work? Will he have to follow the many before him and go to Moscow? The middle aged mom thinks of her young son serving in the Army, he has been away for 4 months now and soon they will send him to his permanent assignment. She prays that he will be safe, and far away from the Azerbaijani boarder, and she hopes that he will be able to come home soon to visit, if she is one of the lucky ones. The middle aged man worries about the work that has to be done, his garden is calling him, he has no work, all he can do is make the best of the home that he owns and keep his family eating. The young girl thinks about the exams she must take soon, she hopes that she will do well because she must get into the University in order to make anything of her life. She is trying her best to learn English, but how can she learn when she has no one to practice with. She briefly wonders if she could befriend me, but soon her thoughts go back to her anxiety over her schooling, she has to get out of here, but what if she doesn’t pass? The Tatik worries about her many ailments, her back has been hurting more than usual, and she has been having heart problems, but there is too much work in the home and garden to be done for her to complain, besides her daughter in law doesn’t work hard enough so she must make sure the family has enough to eat.
Their worries and problems begin to make my heart feel heavy again. Armenian energy is often overwhelming; it has begun to have a pull onto my spirit. I turn my head and look out the window again, wanting to go back to the previous moments when life was only beauty, purple flowers and sunshine. I wish they would just take a moment to get out of their head and look out the window. To see the beauty of the world they live in. To see that tangled in the weeds and brush, there are beautiful flowers.
Today over coffee, ice cream and apricots I shared my observations with my counterpart. We spoke about everything I have been holding in. I explained to her that sometimes it feels like there is too much sadness here and that it affects me. We laughed about Spitak people thinking I am a little bit strange because I smile too much. I even told her that I hate to clean house and that I know that people say that I am messy, she laughed and agreed that it is true. I told her how I would rather read books and take long walks and go running and play with Sophie and visit my friends than to clean. How I don’t understand why Armenian women clean all day every day. Yes they have beautiful homes, but how is the quality of life? She laughed and said its true. She took a look around her house and a smile crept onto her face. Don’t tell anyone, she tells me, but I don’t like to clean either. Today I did not clean and I don’t think I will either. Your right, there are better ways to spend your time. We both laugh as I interject and say what about your husband… never mind she says, he gets home when it is dark tonight, he won’t notice! I love how I can find so many similarities with her. I always feel that though we come from different planets she really truly understands me, and I am beginning to understand her and her people. Though I get lonely here, I know that I always have her on my side and I couldn’t be more grateful!