Living in Armenia the second time around is different. You are no longer bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. You see beneath the surface. And you don't always like what you see…
We (us second-time-arounders) are congratulated for returning. I mean, we had our chance. We left Armenia, and though we always said we'd return, probably no one really believed us. But we did return. And those who stayed, those who remain here thanked us (though they don't need to, really). We feel like heros. But I find that problematic. You don't get a medal for living in Armenia (living anywhere, for that matter). So why do people feel the need to make us feel like we deserve a medal? If anyone deserves a medal, it's you. You who stayed. You who stayed and fought and continue to put yourself on the line every day (I'm talking about the human rights defenders, the activists). I took the easy way out. I left (yes, it was for a good cause, and yes, now I'm back) and yes, though I did what I could from afar, you have to admit, it's easier from a distance, from behind a computer screen, than on the ground, In Real Life. Trust me, I know.
But the thing is we've changed. I've changed. The experience of leaving — even temporarily, even knowing you'll be back — changes you. You've lived a different life. And even though the entire time you're away you're thinking of Armenia, you're counting the days till you get back — because you feel the pull, the longing is too powerful — even though you experience all these things, once you get back, it's not the same. Or rather, you're not the same.
And though things here are different (so many have left, so many want to leave; things always seem to be getting from bad to worse), that's not really the big change. The big change is in you. You've lost that hopeful glow, the stance that regardless of everything, you're happy to be here, you want to be here. You're not so sure anymore. You wonder about your future here, and you hate it when people keep asking you if you're back for good, as in the rest of your life. Who knows about the rest of their life? I don't. I can't make any promises. I don't make any promises. But I say I am back, and I don't have plans to go anywhere anytime soon. And really, isn't that good enough?
[I'm sorry, mom, I know you said you like it when I end my blog posts on a positive note, but this time I don't have anything more to add. What can I say, some days I'm more positive than others!]