With my departure coming up on Monday, I thought I’d list some of the things/people/abstract ideas that I anticipate missing most while in Armenia; I’ll plan to revisit this list halfway through my time there to see what’s held true. Apologies in advance to any people, places, or things who don’t find themselves on this list and feel they should be.
- Family, friends, girlfriend, other myriad loved and liked ones – pretty straightforward and fundamental. Having spent more than 20 years in Boston, I’ve got a deep social and support network of the old and the new.
- The Northeast, and America in general – I’ve had the privilege to see a lot of this country, and I’ll miss it in the two years I’m gone (assuming I don’t visit at some point), particularly my stomping grounds throughout the greater Boston area, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
- My bicycles – from what I’ve heard, cycling in Armenia is either dangerous or pointless (i.e. it’d be faster to walk up that rutted dirt road than to ride it). My bikes are both inanimate objects and dear friends, and I anticipate missing them quite a lot while gone.
- The Red Sox – I’m a bit bitter over having to leave right at the start of baseball season. It’s also a shame to miss Ortiz’ last year and what will likely be the best years of David Price. It’s possible that I’ll have good enough internet to watch some games on my laptop (and certainly stream the radio feed), but a 7 PM East Coast start time equates to 3 AM in Armenia. We’ll see how dedicated/crazy I am.
- Being generally understood by others – obviously more complex conversations will be necessary to make friends with Armenians and understand them on a deeper level, and in the beginning I anticipate feeling more isolated when all I can say is, “No, I don’t like walnuts”, or “This is our cat Rose, she is fat and angry”.
- Anonymity – especially if I’m in a smaller town/village, but even in bigger cities, I imagine it’ll be hard to blend in for those times when I just want to go for a walk to the store or a hike in the hills without saying good afternoon to fifteen people and being invited inside for coffee by most of them. I realize that I’m complaining about the level of hospitality and kindness I expect to find in Armenia, but as someone in the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum sometimes I just want to walk with my thoughts.
- Familiar liberal gender roles – having lived in extremely liberal places my entire life, I expect to have some trouble with what I’ve heard are strongly defined traditional gender roles in most Armenian households. Beyond the difficulty of seeing what I might consider to be forms of oppression, I imagine I may have to cut back on some of my more traditionally feminine hobbies, such as cooking, cleaning, embroidering, and painting my toenails.
- Pets – various cats and dogs are an important part of my life. I have no idea if household pets are a thing in Armenia, and if so how they are treated. On a related note, this is a fantastic public Facebook page of photos and stories about their pets submitted by volunteers over the years.
Next on the docket is to summarize what I’m most looking forward to!