It feels like I dreamt it. The whole thing, the entire two years. This is a phenomenon I was not expecting, this incredible distance, both physically and emotionally, from the place I was living in just days ago.

Before I left, it felt like there would be no end to tears, to this ripping at my heart as I left a small piece of myself in a home I loved. And now, honestly, I feel as if I woke up, and here I am in the house where I grew up, in a comfortable bed, fans blasting back the summer heat, endless entertainment of a cultural language I understand, a fridge stocked with food I know, and my flesh and blood family right here, hugs with whom feel as natural as breath.

Armenia, where did you go? I can hardly feel anything but panic when I think about people who were just within arms’ reach, a whole world that I swear I had in my sights a minute ago and now seems to have puffed into smoke. I might just believe it never happened if it weren’t for a Facebook chat with my Armenian counterpart or a phone call from a fellow volunteer, these faint whispers that my life there actually existed.

Why the distance? My friend and fellow volunteer who landed in Maine the same day I landed here, she and I talked about it over the phone. We thought that perhaps the absolute ease of such a familiar life might be distracting us from the change. We thought that maybe it would take some time to realize everything that had happened and all that it meant. Or perhaps we’re just in some kind of shock so severe that to take stock of the whole situation might be incapacitating.

Maybe there’s just so much to miss that I can’t grasp it all just yet.

Tomorrow, early in the morning, my mother and I are driving to the Louisiana bayou to visit her parents. There will be no internet or pool or gym to distract me. I am going to take my blog friend‘s advice and start quickly digging deep into memory and taking some notes on that Armenian life I was living. Perhaps I’ll start with names like Gayane, Artur, Arpine, and Liana and then work my way to memories from there.


  1. Based on my own experience, I think your time in Armenia will become less of a dream when you start to feel more how it changed you; when you start to notice how you react differently to situations back home now compared to two and a half years ago; when you notice how your ideas about (everyday) things “back home” have changed, how you “see” familiar things differently. I think that’ll slowly start once you get some sort of a regularly scheduled everyday life back.

    Give yourself some time to readjust and then eventually your time in Armenia will become not a dream but a part of who you are now. Reverse culture shock of moving back to your “home culture” tends to be worse than the culture shock you get when moving to a different one.

  2. Sandra Taylor

    I like everything you share, because you share so intimately. I think these feelings of dream/sadness/doubt will abate shortly, and you will get back to loving all of the past 2 years as well as your present. Take your time in making another major move; you need processing time. Perhaps the Louisiana bayou is just the thing. I know you and your sweet mom will have a good drive. Love you both! God bless.

  3. I am surprised that the Peace Corps (?) does not offer you any sort of re-entry prep or support. Of course you’re in shock. Good luck…

  4. I remember feeling like this post-Oxford – especially since I came back to my parents’ house, where so many things were the same. But these two years really did exist and they will be a part of you forever. Yes, dig into those memories. They’re gold.

  5. Axber-jan, it was very hard for me and for everyone at first. What helped? Listening to Armenian music, talking talking talking to other pcv’s, speaking the language as often as possible, writing down sudden memories, and taking all steps slowly back into this overstimulating country. It will get better, but it’s not easy in the beginning. We’re all here for you though. I know a very cool Armenian women in town just waiting to have coffee with you.

  6. It will, in fact, take time. It hit me like a ton of bricks a couple months after getting back. I thought I was doing fine, but realized I hadn’t really had any time to actually think about what was missing. I got really down for a while once it hit me, and the longing often comes back, even a year on (especially when reading your blog). It’s very hard sometimes to realize that it actually happened, and that it’s over. Be well.

  7. Just beautiful. I hope the pieces come together soon.

  8. […] month ago I wrote about how Armenia felt like a dream, like this place I had just inhabited but now seems so distant it’s almost unreal. But […]

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