Friday, October 23, 2009

Life before Armenia

Today, I read a Facebook post that brightened up my day. It’s not everyday you read something online that changes you, or at least makes you feel stronger, more confident, content, at peace, if only for the time being.

"I can't even remember how my life was before Armenia. Yesterday I realized that moving here has been the best decision in my life so far." (the Facebook post that brightened up my day)

There is so much in this world (both the wider world “out there” and the more micro-world that is my life) to bring you down; so much that disheartens you, that weakens you, that brings out all of your insecurities and fears.

I do not want to be afraid of fear.

"Lara, you know what I call our life in SF now that I look back at those years we spent in one of the most beautiful cities in the world? A nice, engaging, thrilling paperback you read at airports before your flight, then leave it to go on with real life, with no shortage of real thrills..." (one of the many responses to Lara’s post)

Some days I wonder about my decision to move here; I wonder how permanent or temporary it is; I wonder what I’ve left behind; and I wonder if things would be better “over there.” I miss my friends and my family. But as a good friend of mine reminded me recently, we are always missing something and I know that if I was there right now, things wouldn’t be perfect, and I would find something else (or someone else) to miss.

I wonder about my privilege. I feel as someone who is a citizen of a “developed” country and who, of her own free will, has chosen to live in a “not as developed” country (note the use of quotation marks), I always have a way out. I have a Plan B, an opt-out plan, if you will. Yet those who are citizens of this country, who live here, who are based here, don’t have that choice. Their “opt-out plan” is not so easy. Hell, even planning a trip to another country is rife with securing and paying for visas, for permission to leave the country (in the way of a stamp in your passport: something Canadian citizens in Canada or anywhere else in the world never have to deal with), and for health insurance, which, I’m told, is mandatory to secure a visa AND get permission to leave the country.

Armenian citizens have to run around to a number of different offices before they are able to leave the country, have to secure more funds, and always have a risk of being denied exit from here and/or entry to there. And all I have to worry about is securing funds for the plane ticket!

I wonder about these things and many more... I think about language, about ease in speaking and being understood. I worry about knowing where to go, not so much actual streets and addresses as finding out how to get there, which marshutka to take (minibuses: the major form of public transport in Yerevan), whether I will get off at the right stop or pass it and have to get off and walk back (hey, it happens).

I wonder about being confident. A state of being that I found to be very natural in Toronto, though it’s a bit harder to come by in less familiar territory. And I speak the language. I can read and write in Armenian. I have friends and family here: one can hardly say I’m alone (actually, it’s impossible to be alone in this city... no, really :)

I know, though, that when I go back to Toronto (which I will soon, for a brief visit), I will realize even more so that I made the right decision. That I am exactly where I need to be. Where I want to be. That, to me, this is home and not just a temporary place to rest my weary feet.

Thank you to Lara for the Facebook post and thank you to Lucineh, whom I have never met in person, for her fabulous and fitting analogy.

1 comment:

  1. i always think about that privilege/curse (although how privileged to call it a curse) and it is so ironic. you just gotta go with it though. you are where you are because that's where you've come to. there is a whole path you walked that got you to where you are now. all you can do is be aware of that privilege i think. the rest is just accepting the world as it is. and trying to change it at the same time. something like that...

    thank you for your words :)