when you return home you notice things

After five days I still haven’t finished unpacking. Armenia feels like a dream I keep trying to sleep my way back to. The world won’t stop spinning long enough for me to get my bearings, but slowly I seem anyway to make my way through the day in this familiar and yet unfamiliar small, Texan hometown of mine.

Here are some of the first things I noticed:

Hot. So hot. If in the near future you can’t find me, just look around for puddles.

My sister is tall. She hid from me at the airport, then tapped me on the shoulder mid-other-brother hug. I turned around to see this beautiful, young woman standing where my little sister should have been. Still, goodness if she isn’t the same, bright star I left two years ago, same smile, same laugh. She was just passing by my room and walked in simply for another hug.

The shiny, heavy silverware. It’s pretty how the end of forks and spoons tapers into leaves and roses, how the edges are rounded, how clearly they reflect my face upside-down. I do the dishes and handle them a little slowly just to look at them.

The whirring of fans in the morning. In Armenia, my house’s only morning sounds were birds singing outside the window and my breathing. Now I hear the air conditioner and the fan in every occupied room.

The colors. The dark green of trees, the Arizona Cypress, the Ashe Juniper. The crushed, stalky yellow of dried grass in yards too heat-blanched to give more than some spots of faint green. The blue of pool water. The comforting, deep brown of a cup of Armenian coffee.

My Texan accent. It is coming back. It is coming back strong

My Armenian accent. I keep un-aspirating my T’s and saying my vowels funny. This is based on reports from my mother who keeps asking me to repeat things I’m fairly certain I said in plain English (whatever that is).

My need to kiss. I keep forgetting that a kiss on the cheek is not an American tradition.

General awe. There are certain times I find myself looking all around with my eyes wide and my jaw open, thinking, “I’m sorry; am I here, like actually HERE, right now?”

Then there’s the new dog, the vertigo, the shiny gym equipment, the sound of tires on paved roads, etc., etc.

There will be more. I wish I had made a similar list in Armenia.



  1. But you did make a list, all year long – sharing the details and memories and little things about Armenia.

    So glad you’re with the ones you love – though I know what that reentry shock feels like. Love to you.

    1. Thanks for the reminder, friend.

  2. Quick, make that Armenia list before it all fades.

    It is a real shock to re-enter the once familiar. I spent a year in France and also came home accustomed to kissing people hello and shaking their hands as well. I also gesticulated much more.

    Keep making and taking notes.

    1. I am getting on that Armenia list this week. I’ve got a trip to the grandparents scheduled, and there will be no internet or tv. So, some undisturbed writing time is on the way!

  3. Apparently you left your heart in Armenia you knew. To get it back -like they insist there- you have to marry an Armenian gal. There are many in USA, most born here, there are listing of them in Armenian social networks, looking for friends, dates or just chats. If you tell them that you have climbed to the top of Mt. Ararat that would be a positive plus and speaking Armenian would be another of course. Good luck!

  4. great read

  5. Very cool. I’m a PCV in the Dominican Republic. I just swore in in May, and I often wonder what life will be like when I return. I wonder what lenses I’ll have gained or how my old ones will have changed. Many blessings to you, friend. :)

    1. Enjoy your service. It’s such a privilege as I’m sure you’re already experiencing. And if you need some tips on reentry in a couple years and can remember me, feel free to ask!

      1. Thanks :)

  6. Sandra Taylor

    Like your list. I want to let you know, though, that greeting with a kiss on the cheek is not entirely unfamiliar here. It is a wonderful feeling to be loved so much by a friend to receive that greeting! Keep it up; we need more of it here in America! And I’m sure you are aware that Paul tells us in both first and second Corinthians (16:20 and 13:12 respectively). So go for it!! Love you *kiss*!

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