Two years ago yesterday I arrived to Yerevan after a red-eye flight to Tbilisi, and a bumpy marshrutka ride. The marshrutka, a minibus, had a cracked front glass, but I didn’t pay any attention to it. I almost cried when I crossed the border. I had two suitcases and a plan to live in the Armenian capital for about a year. I had a contract, a group of supportive friends, and a dream of creating a happy life in a place so many people leave for Europe. Grass is always greener on the other side, they say.
It started a year earlier. I came for a summer internship to research emigration. Ironically enough, this took me to my own immigration decision. Armenia just happened to me. I wasn’t scared or anything. It felt normal. Someone was moving to London, someone was moving from a small town to a capital, and I was moving from Poland to Armenia.
I’ve read somewhere that moving to a richer country won’t make you happier. I guess that’s what my guts were telling me when I was sitting in that marshrutka.
In the beginning I thought it was temporary. An adventure. And it was, indeed. The first ten months were the crazy ones. Partying, mending a broken heart that Europe gave me as her farewell gift, going places all over South Caucasus. (Well, I was working too, but that’s not what this post is meant to be about).
Last spring was different. I got tired of partying. I came to peace with that breakup. I grow bored of my NGO jobs. I missed working as a language professional. I wanted to translate, to play my game with words all over again. I briefly contemplated leaving Armenia. Everything here irritated me. That’s okay, I thought. It’s my time to go. This is what they do, these privileged immigrants, who call themselves expats. They come, they conquer, and then they move on. Now, it’s my turn.
I started translating again, but I wasn’t making enough to risk full time freelancing. I passionately daydreamt about places to go. I was thinking of Prague and the Balkans. I even told some friends that I’m slowly building an exit route.
Except, I never left.
Yes, you are right. I met a guy I wanted to settle for. But this story isn’t only about it. We could pick any place in the world, a writer and a musician can do anywhere. We are still here though, and I’m ridiculously content with the life we built. The life we are building.
Last spring taught me many lessons. I learnt that escaping is not an answer. That you should quit that job you hate if you know what you love. I learnt that unpopular choices are often the best ones. That if you dream, you have to stand for it. I learnt that I don’t need stuff.
I never imagined I would stay in Armenia for that long. But I did. I live in a city I really like, sharing my days with a person I love. I made friends here. I quit all the jobs I didn’t like and became a full time translator. I started translating literature again. I started writing poems again. I still don’t understand how I could have neglected what I love the most for so long.
In the beginning I thought my life in Armenia was temporary. Then I understood that it is meant to last. I managed to create a full life here and I have no reason to make another move. I don’t dare to destroy it for the unknown. I want to travel and to come home after.
Yes, I’ve just called Yerevan home.