Studying abroad has been a dream for me for many years. My dream came true, and not once, but twice. But now, being back to Yerevan for a year already, I think how nice it would be if someone had told me how life changes when you find your “home” in more than one place. When you have left behind a group of close friends, memories and a sense of home in another part of the world, a question keeps turning in your head: “Should I really be here now, or am I missing out on another parallel life that could have existed had I not come back home?”
Tbilisi gave me freedom, Tuscany gave me self-awareness, but after returning to Armenia, I can’t get rid of the thought that I came back to the same point where I started, and staying here I am afraid I might not know the way to move forward.
When I came back from Georgia, my suitcases were on the floor for about 10 days. I couldn’t open them, unpack my things, and put them in place. When I came back from Italy, I couldn’t work for months, I just wanted to sleep. Now, after a year being back home, here I am, facing my old problems and then there is the life I lived outside of Armenia for several years, which now seems like it never happened.
A few months after returning to Yerevan, I realized that there are many people around me who have the same thoughts and feelings, constantly lost in different worlds, somewhere in the middle, with a constant background longing and a question: what if I didn’t come back?
When I just came back, I would cry every time I came across a video from England on social networks. At some point, I forced myself not to watch anything, and if any photo or video from London caught my eye, I quickly scrolled so that I did not see it.”
I had the impression that I had left my life unfinished there…
I decided to come back to Armenia in a day, and just a week before that I was sad when I imagined that at some point, when my studies were over, I had to leave London.
I didn’t know that I would decide to come back because of COVID19. I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to London in the normal way, because I knew I would be back.
You will never feel like a stranger in London. People can be whatever they want to be. But here, if I want to be the way I am, express myself the way I want, my style, my thoughts, there will always be people who will look at me strangely.
Moving to Tbilisi was the best thing that could have happened to me at that stage of my life, because I needed to understand myself at that time, I needed to be alone with myself, to be away from everyone, I needed to understand what it is to pay utilities after all, to do mandane household chores. I was always miles away from that.
What do I miss? Kosta Khetagurova 6, apartment 34, my house, my room, the pigeon that was coming to our balcony every morning, the view of the crooked Tbilisi houses from the living room, our landlord Stasik, our burnt pasta and buckwheat.
I think my life was so lovely there because my friends were there. Now there are very few people left, and I am afraid that if I go back to stay there it might not be the same anymore. I will suffer much more.
I have been preparing myself for the day of leaving for a month… Handing over the keys was the hardest moment. I had to take out the key from the keychain, the landlord was standing in front of me, I was crying, my hands were shaking.
When I came back, people would ask me, ‘Why did you come back?’, then they would start asking, ‘Why didn’t you stay there?’, ‘Why don’t you go back to your Norway?’ and sometimes they would say this in a very rude manner.
I noticed very quickly that I was less anxious there. I began to like some small things in life there, which I did not like in Yerevan or in Tbilisi. I liked the view from the window, my room, the weather, the people, and the supermarket employees who weren’t rude like people can be here. I liked the buses, I liked the Norwegian language which made me feel very relaxed.
All those feelings, emotions, memories and stories that people usually have in their cities, I had all that in Norway.
I lived like a plant following the year I was back. I wouldn’t leave the house. I was trying to understand how to be. I felt terrible, but I had to show my family I was all right.