During my time in Armenia, from April to October 2015, I was inspired to share my journey from start to finish on my blog, but now looking back, I realize I never talked about why I decided to leave my life in America and move to Armenia for half a year. I was recently asked this specific question and to respond, there are many different reasons I made the move, some tangible, some conceptual.
The first was a feeling, an indescribable calling toward Armenia. I had gone seven times prior as a tourist and each time it was harder and harder to leave. I remember crying the entire plane ride back after my first visit in 1991 as an eight year old. And trust me, Soviet times was not an ideal time to be there. So with that nostalgia inside me and because I’m fortunate enough to work from home, one day in early 2015, it hit me: why don’t I ask my boss if I can work from home, my home, my Motherland? Luckily she obliged (I had originally asked if I can go for 3 months, then later extended) and coincidentally my apartment lease ended in April, which is when I was planning on going in time for the 100th anniversary of the Genocide. In that sense, it felt like the universe was working with me and it made my move rather effortless.
The second reason is that my brother Garen moved to Armenia in 2011 after leaving his position as a public defender for LA County. He now works with the American University of Armenia, as well as with the American Bar Association, and loves it. He is so satisfied with his lifestyle in Armenia and knowing that, and having him there made the move that much easier for me.
And finally, when visiting my brother in Armenia in the Winter of 2013 for three weeks (the coldest Winter in 10 years might I add!!), I had started to take note of the differences between life in America and Armenia, and that’s when I started to really appreciate the simplicity of life in Armenia. Human interaction and connections are still very much palpable in a world that often feels too robotic. I couldn’t help but feel more alive than ever when I was in my Motherland, so I wanted to experience that sensation for a longer period of time, to see if I can really do day-to-day life there.
The short answer is yes, I can definitely see myself living in Armenia, but the timing has to be right, too. One thing that gives me hope: I met many repatriates who said that making the permanent move to Armenia wasn’t necessarily easy or quick. Many have gone, stayed for a while, returned, gone again, come back again, and then finally made the permanent move when the opportunity struck. I hope that with “Hearts of Armenia” I’m getting closer to being able to serve as greater purpose there. At the very least, I have made a personal pact to try to go every year, if not at least every couple years because this I know: while most people leave their hearts in San Francisco, where I was born and raised, I left my heart in Armenia.