To my future happy place,

I do not want to limit these letters to just people. I think doing so would force me to capture only a small part of an intricate spectrum of things that have shaped me. And so, I’d like to begin this letter by saying:

Dear happy place,

I don’t really know how to describe you. That is, I don’t really know what or where you are. Maybe you don’t exist. But here are some hopes and dreams I want to put out regarding you.

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Sometimes I think of you as the shade under a fig tree with the nearby Mediterranean sea breeze picking my hair apart in tangles. The climb to the top of Anacapri, to the vista alongside thousand year old statues of Caesar and the Sphinx, where you’ll find me sitting with a glass of limoncello. Perhaps you are the Blue Grotto, alit with an electrifying blue, and the thrill when I jump into your magical azure on a whim.

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Perhaps you are the warm cobblestones of Florence, that delicious pappa al pomodoro that I would forever call the best thing I ever ate. Perhaps you are all the museums, the mausoleums, the marble floors, the art, and the thick romance of the Italian air. Perhaps you are the ambrosial Roman sunsets.

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Sometimes you are the thunder I hear under the ground at the base of Mount Aragats or the view from Charents’ Arch looking towards Ararat; a dule of doves fly through the arch and towards their redemption–the fruit trees lining the narrow path up to Khor Virap. Perhaps you are the red poppies draping the hills of Artaz.

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Sometimes you are the blasting cold of the Northern Sea at the edge of St Abb’s Head, the sharp cliffs falling hundreds of feet below into a salt mist. Perhaps you are the rolling hills of the Highlands, the sound of wild sheep bleating, the hooves of red deer passing before the hunt, the golden eagle’s cry. Sometimes you are the ripples in the faerie pools at the Isle of Skye and the roar of the waves against the bluffs in the Hebrides.

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Sometimes you are Paris; tucked in a corner cafe across the Eiffel Tower at precisely 11 o’clock in the evening. Perhaps you are the green leather chairs at La Dome or some side bar in the Latin Quarter, still selling absinthe in old wine bottles. Perhaps you are the flower markets of Nice in the full plight of summer; the tourists past by your stand, but I know better.

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Perhaps you are the great alps of Switzerland; the train ride up to Mürren, the North Face trail winding around towards the Eiger. Perhaps you are that one hotel in Zermatt, where I wake up and see the Matterhorn just outside our bedroom window. Perhaps you are the winding trails and little hostels down the mountain that host funny travelers.

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Perhaps you are all the places I have ever been at once. You are all the feelings, the touches, the scents, the sights, the sounds.

Dear happy place, we will meet. If not all at once, I hope to capture as much of your magic in what little ways I can.

I hope we meet soon,

The bright-eyed traveler

To an old lover,

Where do I begin with you. The moment I met you, it didn’t hit me. It wasn’t until our hands touched that I actually thought of you in that way. All of a sudden, my naive, unsuspecting self was suddenly thrown into a revelry. I couldn’t stop thinking about you. 

It was a perfect match. I mean, the logistics of it would be wonderful. School, spirituality, aesthetically. It made sense, other people also realized how much it made sense. I wouldn’t stop receiving their suggestions until long after I had gotten over you. 

Man, after those few months I seriously thought you were the one. Until you did that thing, and it broke my heart. I mean I can’t blame you; she’s pretty perfect. But she’s perfect to everyone else, too. And, when you’re heart was broken, my bitterness stopped me from coming to your side. From there it’s history. It’s funny, well more like sad, how someone you couldn’t imagine your life without becomes someone you never think about anymore. 

I don’t know if there was a mutual bitterness, but there definitely was a cold distance between us. Maybe it’s because you’re weird, maybe it’s because you heard things, frankly it amuses me at how much it doesn’t matter anymore. 

You showed me what dedication was. You showed me how it felt to lose someone. You taught me that I need to be with a person who’s fully there, who outwardly reaches out with care. And finally, you taught me how to get over my feelings and move on (which would become very handy in the coming year). 

I hope you get what you wanted out of life.

Love,

Girl with the green jacket

To My Teacher,

My darling, anoush Dikin Yvan,

I loved you the most. You taught me unlike any ordinary teacher. You taught me love, you taught me grace, you taught me discipline, and you taught me that the relationship between teacher and student is an indescribable bond, if you’re as lucky as I was. I almost want to write this post in Armenian.

Yes chanachum em kez kani vor yes hing darekan ei. Skats ropeits minchev yes handipel em kez, du dartzel im dadiki. 

I met you when I was five years old. From the second I met you, you became my grandmother. Maybe it was because I was your favorite student, even though I did my homework in the car on the way to class just like the rest of them. Maybe it was my big green eyes you would always call metz dzitabdughner, big olives. Maybe it was the way you would hug me; I remember sinking into your ribbed sweaters, into the comforting clouds of your soft body, my head buried in your motherly bosom.

Not once did I get upset when you disciplined us for not pronouncing something right. The other kids hated you, but I only saw compassion behind your eyes. Kids can be so cruel, so unintentional, so naive. You were a force to be reckoned with. It felt like a little lifetime, those years. How long has it been? Since the bliss of my childhood and running to your arms each Friday night? Even when I got too old to give old ladies hugs, you were still one of the only ones I made the effort to.

You see, dear Yvan, you were my favorite person in this world. I don’t know why you loved me so hard. I don’t know why you called my your grandchild. Perhaps it was because your granddaughter was my best friend. I just remember you showing so much care and dedication towards teaching us our language and our culture. It was through you that I developed this lasting connection with my ancestors and my ancestors’ ancestors. Sweet, sweet, dikin…I can only imagine you now. Where you are, only God knows. I’ve tried so hard to find you, and I feel like I’m aimlessly searching for a piece of my soul that’s gone missing. But I will find you, if its in this life or another.

I can only say: Thank You. Thank you for the life you gave, the lessons, and most importantly the love. Words cannot explain how grateful I am to you, old master. You sparked the flame for finding my blood in what is true and what is holy. You sparked the eternal flame for scholarship and always looking for the old and the new ways. I hope you are drinking wine underneath an apricot tree with Komitas Vartabed. I hope you are singing in revelry with Sayat Nova. You so loved to sing. Even now, when I think about how grateful I am to you, I can only communicate the purest thoughts in Armenian. And that is all because of you, because of your kindness and patience, and willingness to not let me stare absently at this treasure box, but to open it and use all of its gifts. Dikin Yvan, I have felt a thunder in my heart. I know you are no longer here. I know you’re someplace better, oh I cannot wait to sing the hymns with you. As I listen to Arno Babajanian’s Exprompt, I can imagine you standing beside the piano singing in that clear voice of yours. You are always smiling, even though your teeth are worn from war and famine. Your hair always the thin line between gold and grey. But you area lively, jahel, strong as ever. You are a vision, exuding rays of light. As if we have a house and rooms for all the children, where there is always light, and always ripe fruit to be picked.

You are my light, my clear stone, the verdant path.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I will hold your love, your instruction, your kindness, and your warm warm hug in my heart and mind forever.

Thank you for loving me. Thank you for making a place so strange feel like a home. Thank you for being my dadik. I can only apologize for withstanding visits, for forgetting to love you in your old days. But I will make it up to you. I will find her, and together we will laugh and cry of these memories. Together we will complete your memory. We will travel to the old city and find your home and fix it up.

We will make it right.

Forever with love, respect, and truth,

Անաջէ, metz puchik, metz dzitabughner 

I Find Joy

IMG_3948.JPGI go to school in a city filled with people who have radical ideas, proclaim cult doctrines, and argue that God doesn’t exist. In fact, as I was heading to the subway to go to work, I saw a sign that said “God is nowhere.”

I felt something tremendous pulling on my soul, to recognize all the things I see God obviously present in. Most recently, I’ve been planning an anniversary party for my parents. In the process, I’ve called all of our family and friends invite the. I was incredibly touched by the number of people who so warmly wished them [my parents] love and who said they would definitely be there, some of whom we haven’t seen for years! I saw God alive through these little interactions of love.

Even at the moment I was entering the subway station and saw that sign, I was listening to Persian music inspired by Hafez’s poetry, which if you’ve read is ALL about God! I smiled and continued to listen to his poetry speak of the revelry God gives us in being in his proximity. I’ve gone back to these poems time and time again when I’ve felt distanced from god and wanted a taste of how much joy and enlightenment his closeness brings.

As I traveled on the bus, I thought of all the people in the car. They were all going about their lives, shuttling to the city for different reasons. Some were on their phones, some read, and some stared out the window. I found myself thinking about how active, or how inactive, these people’s relationships were with God. And then, I found myself praying for each one! It was as if this mean, deterrent sign at the front of the station just minutes before had spare something incredible in my life and in the lives of the people around me!

Now as I think back, this is one of the things I’ve been asking God to fix in my life. If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you’ve known that I have had a hard time finding joy in the midst of my absurd life. Now as I grow older and older, I’ve come to realize that I find joy in compassion towards others. The more I give, the more I love, the more whole I become, the more I appreciate the little things, and the more I take each day as a gift. This was one situation that started out with something seemingly negative and transformed it into an abundance of joy, reflection, and a form of worship to God.

It’s called me to reflect on the truth that God is everywhere, all the time. In the midst of the darkest parts of your life, in the spiritual stases that you feel, in the times of pure joy, God is there. The only difference is whether or not you are there. What God offers is not a brass idol, not a bargain, and most definitely not the promise of complete happiness. God offers love, grace, trials, and a fulfilling relationship. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a relationship, but goodness are they hard. It’s no different with God, except well, you’re the one with the problem and God is wholly perfect. So imagine that. And that’s why I like sharing my spiritual journey with others and why I love when others share their spiritual journeys with me. It makes everything so much more real. You know you’re not alone in being a messed up, selfish human. You know there are problems you need to work on. And this has been my lifelong spiritual journey; undulations, dips, progress, plateaus. But at the end of it all, the thought that God is with me in my suffering, in my doubt, and just a prayer away makes it all the more better.