Exactly one year ago this week, Paige and I sat in the back of a green four-door-hatchback shared taxi and rode our way down to Kapan for my very first time. There are a lot of things I remember during that ride. Some of the things I remember include riding down most of the way on the wrong side of the road (because the road was nicer over on that side), being advised to always wear a scarf (because the driver was surely going to smoke and you need a scarf to use as a face mask), never ending switchbacks (something I’ve gradually become used to), the warm, fresh lavash and gata we bought in Goris, and Paige and I talking nonstop for the entire six hours down. The conversations were mostly about us getting to know each other better, but they weren’t superficial. They were sincere, Paige was blunt and honest- something I appreciate most in her- and they really prepared me for my service at site.
I was so blessed to have Paige as a sitemate. I always had someone to talk to, I always had someone to commiserate with, I always had someone to laugh with, and I always had someone to make sure I was fed properly. Thankfully, I still have my wonderful sitemate, Anne, to take care of my poorly developed cooking skills. Keeping me fed may or may not have been a discussion between the two women before Paige left. But, it’s still hard to let people go. I am definitely beginning my stages of grief. I not only lost Paige in country, but the group of Volunteers who were in country when I arrived are experiencing their Close of Service (COS) this month, and my perception of Armenia as I know it is [again] going to change. Many people who I’ve depended on and look-up to as senior Volunteers are no longer in country, and I am again going through the forever-promised adjustments of Peace Corps.
So, a final thank you to Paige. Thank you for being wonderful- a true friend. Thank you for finding random little gifts to let others know you are thinking about them, thank you for showing me the difficulties of true love and the beauty of love in this world through your relationship with Jeremiah, and thank you for your many, many words of advice. I’ll miss the cozy late-night chats in your one room apartment, hearing your swearing from the 4feet by 4feet kitchen while you cook, and laughing at ourselves trying to fit in in Armenia and speaking Armenian and often failing successfully. But, I can’t wait to see your life post Peace Corps. I will probably cry when I see the reunion pictures of you and your husband. Tell him his countdown on Facebook every day made all of us Volunteers too excited to see you two reunited. You both made it!
Until next time, “Oh no, Paige!”
And like the winds of autumn, the second year of my service blew in. Summer was great. Armenia was beautiful and often too hot, but I had an awesome vacation in Georgia, my friend from Chicago- Elise- came to visit me there, and I got to return to school being told the building was going to be torn down and the kids would be put into three different buildings in two ends of the city. Changes are sure and promised in Peace Corps, and a second year of service doesn’t mean you’re more adjusted, it means you only have more adjustments to make. Thankfully, though, you get less thrown-off by adjustments and **maybe** learn to adjust better.
A positive of having to walk to different buildings for classes is that my counterpart and I will be in great shape by the end of the school year! This walking will be a necessity because I would otherwise, surely, be overweight due to my developing addiction to gata- the Armenian sweetbread full of a sugar glaze and heaven.
Lastly, I am teaching the 3rd grade for the first time this year. Not only does this make me exhausted, but I must teach the following British English word with a straight face:
Cc, cock, it is a cock, cock.
I can’t make this stuff up, people. (I promise, mom, that’s the most I’ll swear on my blog ever.)