In April, it’ll be a year since I moved to Armenia for 6 months last year, and while I can say that I’ve settled back into the American way of life, there are still things that stick out to me when I compare the two very different lifestyles. One of those things is maintaining friendships. In Yerevan, because it’s a small city and because human interactions are highly valued, it was easier to not only make friends, but to see friends almost on a daily basis. Actually, sometimes without even making plans I would run into people and we would then continue the night together. In America, because of all the distractions and distance, it’s much harder to make time for friends. It’s not impossible, but you have to put in a lot more effort. Like checking calendars, coordinating a spot that’s convenient for both people, scheduling weeks in advance, rescheduling if things come up, etc. Sometimes it can feel like there isn’t enough days in the week. In Armenia, it would almost be laughable to secure a coffee date a week in advance. Life is much more spontaneous there — being born and raised in America, where most things are planned way in advance, it took some getting used to. But once I saw that things still happen without having to hyper plan, I appreciated the naturalness of it.
This reality really hit me when my friend Lilit Markosian, who I met through mutual friends in Yerevan in May 2015, came to the Bay Area to visit her family for an extended period. Since her arrival in December, we’ve only been able to see each other twice. In Armenia, we would meet up twice a week, if not more! And it’s not like we haven’t tried. We’ve had many text message conversations about meeting up, but we’ve had to reschedule a few times because we’re busy. But what are we busy with? Our busy American lives apparently! Plus we live fairly far from each other here unlike in Yerevan, where we were practically neighbors in Komitas (I would see her balcony on my walk to get groceries at SAS Supermarket!).
But alas, Lilit and I were finally able to “synch our calendars” and grab coffee today, and we laughed about how silly it is the amount of effort it took to do something as simple as grabbing coffee. While the Armenia lifestyle emphasizes chilling with friends, the American lifestyle always has us on the go go go after work and money. At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong lifestyle; it all really depends on what you prioritize in life. But I will admit that I miss the spontaneity of waking up in Yerevan with no set plans and ending the night with too many to count.