One Step Behind

Yes, that is how I have been feeling this past week: like I am working hard to catch up but keep being one step behind. I spent some days outside of Yerevan and unfortunately, I brought back a massive cold from Spitak. It is getting better but still makes me feel very tired and my head feels like it is filled with cotton, and doesn’t make me feel like I am capable of too much. So I haven’t been able to get too much done of what I had planned to do.

I came back from Germany early Saturday morning, the 29th. Slept long, made a couple of phone calls and slept again. On Sunday I was off to see Ellada together with my friend Armenuhi who is a beginning fashion designer. She agreed to design and make Ellada’s dress for her graduationparty in June (Ellada is graduating from high school this month), so we went there together to take measurements, discuss the design etc. A fun day, and it was great to spend time with Armenuhi again. She is ten years my junior and originally from Spitak. Last year, she moved to Yerevan to continue her studies and start a career. When you first meet Armenuhi, you think she is a shy, quiet young woman. But when you get to know her, you will find out that she is smart, independent (and trying to juggle that with family ties) and has plans for herself which do not include sitting at home doing nothing and for which she is ready to work very hard. Fortunately, her family so far has been supportive of her plans and her move to Yerevan. She told me that not everyone she discusses her ideas with is supportive of them, she sometimes gets reactions like: “Why would you want to be financially independent from your parents?! They should provide for you!”. Well, not wanting to beg for money from your parents and not wanting to be a financial burden to your not so rich parents, seem like two perfectly good reasons to me! I do have a lot of respect for Armenuhi and the way she thinks about and plans her future and she gets my full support in her undertakings.

Then, on Tuesday after work I was off to Spitak for my best friends’ birthday. It was good spending time with her and her family again. I returned to Yerevan early the next morning, fortunately being able to get a ride from my friends’ neighbor who needed to go to Yerevan for business. He dropped me right off at work. The weather in Spitak was cold, gloomy and rainy, on our way up the mountainpass towards Aparan clouds were hanging very low with extremely bad visibility at some points. But shortly after crossing the pass the clouds broke and the view was just amazing! The sky was bright blue with bright white clouds surrounding the top of Aragats mountain and some other surrounding mountaintops. The land was bright spring green and we could look very far. Wow! I felt just plain happy driving through this amazing landscape.

The trip to Germany was nice. The training was very productive thanks to our enthusiastic and encouraging trainer Jacqueline. Thursday evening I had dinner with my parents who were on their way to Italy for vacation. It was nice meeting up with them, we had some interesting conversations over dinner. Also, after sort of solving the problem with the hairdresser a while ago, I solved another problem I had encountered in Armenia: buying shoes. In Germany I bought a nice pair of summershoes – no stiletto heels, no pointy points and no rhinestone or other glitzy glitter thingies on them. The boyfriend called the shoes “sexy”, which was not exactly what I thought when I bought them. I was thinking more along the lines of: comfortable but nice-looking shoes for the hot Yerevan weather, not tight, not sweaty… 😉

Also, I lavished my mind by running into every bookshop I passed, starting during our stop-over at Vienna Airport and finishing during our eight hour stopover in Vienna on the way back. I just walked around the shops, picking up books, reading their backs, generally indulging myself. In Vienna, I found an incredible nice bookshop selling only books in English, Shakespeare & Company (Well, I didn’t actually “find” the shop, I had found their name and address on the internet with a recommendation when I was searching for good bookshops in Vienna. So I was kind of aiming for it…). Their collection is not huge, but very varied. The people who work there are very friendly, taking time to help you, advising, but also leaving you to browse on your own if you wish. I spent an hour or so there, just looking around, reading, discussing books with the shop owner and an attendant. And yes, I did buy some books.

I needed some adjusting to being back in “the West”. Though the ‘culture shock’ was nowhere near as big as the first few times when I would return from Armenia years ago, still, more than once I kind of felt like Myrthe in Wonderland. I had to get used to watching out for people on bikes more than for cars. Cars would actually stop when I wanted to cross the street somewhere at random instead of at a crossover. Can you imagine?!?! Also, the first days I felt kind of dorky waiting for the light at the crossover to turn green instead of just crossing the street whenever there was a possibility. Trains that are supposed to leave at 12:02 or arrive at 14:48, actually do so. To the exact minute… A sticker in the corner of the mirror in my hotel bathroom saying “Water is precious. Don’t waste it!”. And the diversity of people on the streets even in such a small town as where I was. So many different kinds of people, different kinds of skin tones, dress-styles, hair-styles. One evening I was sitting at a cafe having a drink when on the street right in front of the cafe window a girl ran into a few friends and they stopped and talked for a bit. They were all dressed “alternative style” (army pants, punkish hairdo etc.). After a few minutes I caught myself staring at the mouth of the girl. Why? Because she had a lip piercing! She never noticed I was staring at her, but I felt caught, embarrassed, uncomfortable, stupid in a way. But it also made me realize how “unused” I got to seeing people with piercings, men with earrings etc. Once of those brief, confronting moments, that leave you thinking, reflecting about yourself.

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