1 month left. 2 things are setting in; senioritis and nostalgia. Maybe nostalgia is not the right word, but more the anticipation of the impending nostalgia that my return to America is sure to bring. Sorry, I ain’t no word-ologist.
There has been this interesting arc of thoughts throughout my service. The first year was filled with surprise at different cultural Armenian quirks as I compared this country to America. The middle portion of my service was filled with a basic callousness to all things cultural as I gained a pretty full level of comfort in an Armenian lifestyle. Now I find myself comparing things in Armenia to what I will soon be experiencing (or not experiencing) back in the states. I’ve caught myself numerous times bursting forth with platitudinous remarks like, “wow, I’m gonna miss this”, “I wish we had this in America” or “this is something I hope to bring back with me when I return to the states”. Oftentimes they aren’t so positive, and leave me longing for the next few weeks to fly by so I can once again command the comfort of my own culture.
A few random examples:
I was in the fruit market (more an open air bazaar) last weekend in a random city I had never visited. The fruit vendor who vaguely knew a friend of mine instantly invited us behind his stall where we sat and he treated us to fresh fruit, homemade wine and good conversation. His hospitality probably cost him more than the small amount of money we spent on buying fruit from him. This is a very common occurrence in business here, and one that I’ll miss.
There’s this thing I love to do here when I have a few minutes to kill before a meeting, class or other engagement. It is failsafe, I swear. Leaving the main road a block or two I walk around looking a bit lost and confused. Inevitably someone will ask me where I’m going, what I’m doing etc… Replying in the local dialect will always, and I mean always produce an invitation to come to their house for coffee, vodka or a meal. It’s awesome. What better way to pass a quick bit of time before an event than meeting new friendly people who are curious about you and can’t wait to ply you with any food or drink they may have lying about?
There’s something wonderful about being abroad for a while and coming together as a group of Americans. It’s just so fully comfortable. One thing that I’ve grown to enjoy immensely here in the Peace Corps is gathering as Americans and playing old-timey American folk tunes. We’ve been blessed to have a banjo player, a harmonica guy and a couple of fiddlers. I’ve always loved music but was never exposed to much classic American folk music. Wherever our “musicatin’ weekends” take place, whether it be in the relative comfort of a hotel in the capital city or some mountain shack miles from civilization, they are always so much fun and refreshing. I will miss these pockets of America shared with other Americans in a foreign land.
I suppose I should stop here before I fall off the cliff into a sea of sentimentality.