In Armenia I did one thing: learned about Armenia. Even when Armenia got a little overwhelming and I attempted to turn off and just socialize, the conversation inevitably came around to Armenian experiences, and I’d drag out my notebook. When something really grasped me, my stock phrase was, “That’s going in the book!” (This was also my legal disclaimer.)

The only night I successfully avoided anything in relation to work was when my cousin and I, trapped in Goris, bought two decks of Russian playing cards and watched Polish MTV. After several drinks, we ended the night making up stories about the characters on the cards.

I learned a lot about Armenia, but the core concept I learned was (cliched-but-true) how much more I don’t know, or more precisely, how much more I wanted to know. I’ve become fascinated by Armenia and its stories. This fascination grows like yeast.

Now I’m in Sydney, 13600 kilometres from Armenia, but still mentally divided between the two. Sydney is a fabulous place to live because it’s full of places like this:

And sometimes in the national parks we get visits from friendly swamp wallabies.

They aren’t hopping around in the city, of course (which is probably a relief for drivers).

I’m originally from the flat centre of Canada, which looks more like this:

Steve built us this fabulous ice castle, but it melted in spring, leaving us homeless.

Okay, we didn’t live in an ice castle. But seriously, this is the reality of Canadian prairie winter:

There’s a lot of reasons why I prefer living in Sydney right now. One key, non-climate related reason is because Sydney has an active, sizable Armenian community. Last week, I attended the launch of a non-political society for Armenian-Australian professionals (I reasoned that I have some claim in all three of those groups) where I found myself talking to people about their various experiences of Armenianness – how many generations of their families had been in Australia, how someone’s relative was Bolsahay (and even though I’d never heard that term before, I knew instantly what it meant), how one gal’s dream vacation would be motorcycling through Armenia and Iran. And I was captivated.

Armenia is like a puzzle with pieces spread all over the globe. It was exciting learning about Armenia in Armenia. But it’s also been exciting to live as far away as Australia and experience aspects of Armenianness and Armenian community, and still be able, just once in a while, to think about other things. Like wallabies.


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