Homecoming Weekend

You know that feeling you get when you go somewhere you haven’t been for a while? Excitement is mixed with a whirl of memories and the passage of time. I got a great rush of that feeling on Friday night when I visited my training village, Solak.

It had only been 3 months since I had been in Solak, yet it felt like much longer. As I hopped out of the Hrazdan marshrutka on the highway, to the surprise of the driver and everyone else aboard, I was suddenly hit with the excited nervousness that only a homecoming can offer.

On the walk into town, I stopped and paused to take in the rolling hills and the nearby mountain. It was just as beautiful as I remembered. As I walked down the main road, the school burst into view. It brought back a rush of memories of language school and other activities we hosted there, like the 4th of July and the Prime Minister’s visit. The yard was serene. It made the Vardenis schools look pretty bad. The only thing I disapproved of was that they hacked all the branches off of the 2 shade trees. I passed the school maintenance worker on the road, and he remembered me. He was a quiet guy, but we said hello and he gave me a huge grin. I told him the school looked beautiful.

The longer I walked through town, the more it felt like I never left. The feeling culminated when I walked in the gate of my host family’s house and greeted the younger brother as he was shoveling masonry dirt (not sure what else to call it). The dad quickly appeared and he was extremely happy to see me. Again, maybe I missed it during training, but I thought he was indifferent towards me. I guess I was wrong. He gave me a hug, asked me some questions, then smiled and said “Kevin jan!” before giving me a big bear hug.

I was definitely apprehensive about going back to Solak for some reason. Maybe it was because I live somewhere else now. Maybe it was self-consciousness about language ability. Maybe I was nervous that I wouldn’t know what to do when I got there. Maybe I wasn’t sure how they would react. But all those fears were blown out of the water the minute I got there. I was received as if I was a family member. I was fed like a king. And most of all, it felt like home.

It was also a victory in the eternal struggle to learn this language. Not only had my language lessons gone well that week, but when I came back to Solak it made me realize how much more I can say and understand. I definitely didn’t understand everything or even close to it, but I understood so much more than I did during PST. I also realized how much clearer they speak than the people in Vardenis. It was like when you’re playing an RPG and you go back to the beginner area after you’ve leveled up a few times – it was easier! I have leveled up in Armenian…

So I departed yesterday afternoon in great spirits. They were already asking when I was going to come again and that I should come quicker next time. I don’t know when it will be, but I would love to visit for Nor Tari (New Year’s).

In other news, I weighed myself for the first time in Armenia. I was 176 with all my clothes and shoes on. So maybe I’m like 170, which to me seems low. I am normally around 180ish. I was expecting a loss so I wasn’t surprised. But then my Solak family said I had gotten fat. So the quantitative evidence did not fit the qualitative evidence. Anywho, I plan to pack on some pounds this winter after I move out, if for anything to give me some added protection against the cold!

Speaking of that, I am currently looking at apartments. On Thursday I visited two houses, but neither one was a great fit. I need to find a place soon so I can get approved to move out in December!

To cap off this post, I would like to congratulate Jim and Tanya on their baby Nora! Congratulations are also in store for Dave and Lauren’s engagement! Well done everyone.


2 Responses to “Homecoming Weekend”

  1. Peter Says:

    ‘Kevin Crookshank hath gained a level’. Solak is full of imps whereas Vardenis has some level 15 fire elves and you haven’t learned ICE 2 yet.

    Glad to hear you’re continuing to progress with the language skills. My experience was was more situational than geographical. It seemed like if you were in a bank or a formal place then people spoke clearly and enunciated, but every restaurant situation involving wine turned into slurred words.

  2. icenugget Says:

    Hah! Good insight on the situational vs. geographical. I hear some “barbar” (slang) in our office from time to time, but generally it is more understandable than what I hear at home.

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