Friday, February 5, 2010

Ruminations on a Friday morning

When I decided to move to Armenia, I was clear and focused. I knew I was coming to live with my partner, that I would find a job, and that we’d take it one day at a time. Until then, we hadn’t lived together in the same continent, let alone the same city. And, of course, we had to give it a go: we had to see how our relationship would grow, what directions it would take, once we were in regular, live (not live as in with a webcam through Skype) contact.

Since I’ve been here, I find that I’m less focused, less clear — not in terms of my relationship (the one very solid, very real thing in my life), but in terms of work, future plans, hell, even current plans. The routine of a full-time day job (including Saturdays, can you believe it?) takes away time and energy to think of more creative, or even future, pursuits. I find it’s easy to get sucked into the everyday, the mundane, and lose sight of the bigger picture. And I like to think of the bigger picture.

I’m considering post-grad studies, but not in Armenia. I haven’t even been here that long, but I’m already thinking about leaving. At least, temporarily. It’s just that the more I think about it, the more I find my options limited here. Perhaps I haven’t found my niche. Perhaps I haven’t found my place in this country, in this city. And though it’s important to remember the past, I believe in living in the present. But one still has to be able to make plans for the future. And living in a country where most people I know live hand-to-mouth, where you can’t trust the state to provide for you, where you don’t know what the future will bring (because it can never be relied on anyway), I find it harder to think ahead.

In Toronto, I would most likely be making plans for the summer by now. But somehow, it seems out of place to mention the summer in the middle of winter. In my experience, people don’t advertise events more than a week (or two at most) in advance. You would forget the date, the details. And organizing for an event? Unlike what I know to be true in Toronto, and I assume other North American cities, you can begin organizing maybe a month ahead, but not a year. It’s like that anecdote my mom said: when she was visiting Armenia a few years back, she inquired about booking a restaurant for my sister’s wedding when she was thinking about having the ceremony in Yerevan. She asked all sorts of details from the restaurant (or banquet hall, can’t remember which) manager: price, number of people they can seat, and so on. When he asked when the wedding was to take place, she said next year. He, taken aback, pushed his calculator aside (ostensibly, for doing all those calculations for the cost of the affair), looked at her and said “Do you even have the groom?” Then proceeded to tell her that by next year, the space would look different, he would renovate everything and the prices would change. Next year, there were no guarantees. But next month? Well, that we can do.

And therein lies a perfect example of diasporan Armenian meets local Armenian. Of living in Toronto vs. living in Yerevan. Perhaps here I am living in the present. That which all the self-help books tell you will keep you sane, keep you grounded, keep you focused. But here, it takes on a whole new meaning…the more I live here, the more I find that one can’t only live in the present. That it’s all about balance. Too much rushing headfirst into the future, constantly planning ahead, and not fully appreciating what you have now doesn’t work (or as they say here, «չի ստացվում»). But too much living in the everyday and not thinking ahead doesn’t work either.

It’s all about balance. And right now, I’m trying to find mine.


  1. Fingers crossed re finding a balance, Adrineh jan. Agree about limited choices in Armenia. But I kind of miss the ability to book things, events, dates same day, next day etc. Here in London, it's all about planning ahead, booking for a wedding or Christmas in a year etc etc And at times it's suffocating...

  2. Thanks, Mika jan :-) and of course, I understand... there are pros and cons in living in Toronto, Yerevan or London, but at the end of the day it comes down to one living (really living, not just passing the days) in the place that they are. It's difficult to be physically in one place but have your mind set on someplace else, but I imagine a lot of people are in that situation... I'm here now and I'm happy to be here; I just have to find my footing, you know?