Contributor: Lillian Avedian
Return to Shvanidzor
Time is the most formidable con artist. It guarantees all and immediately whisks it away as you begin to appreciate its value. Time is the sea, and I am the sand on the ocean floor, grasping desperately to the present even as it is washed away.
The two weeks I spent in Shvanidzor in the summer of 2017 are frozen in time. Every moment in Shvanidzor feels immense, as I am wholly immersed in the present, free from the distractions of social media and American news. The mountains in the distance, the cool water from the stream, the braying of the cows, the laughter of the children--all of these things overwhelm your senses in the moment, and the past and the future do not matter. However, the cruel irony of time proved its power as those two weeks passed all too quickly. It was not until I was gone that I could begin to understand how living in Shvanidzor would fundamentally alter my understandings of human kindness and happiness.
And so from the moment that I left Shvanidzor I looked for ways to return, to relive those moments that anchor you into the present yet fled from me so rapidly. When I travelled to Armenia this summer for my internship in Yerevan, a piece of me knew that my heart would lead me to this village, tucked away in the imposing mountains of Syunik, in the farthest corner of Armenia.
Since returning to Shvanidzor, every space has felt incredibly evocative. The dining table, the restroom, the classrooms--each one instantly triggers memories of a happy time spent here. Moments that I felt could only exist as sensations have crystallized into recollections tucked away in my mind.
It is impossible to recreate the past. I recognized this from the second I stepped off of the bus and we were greeted with music, balloons, and bread and salt from children dressed in Armenian garments. This unexpected and entirely new reception instigated a process of realizing that those dearly held moments belong to history. Yet my joy and anticipation upon getting to know our new volunteer group, catching up with the village kids whom I have not seen in a year, and re-acquainting myself with my surroundings prove that this inevitable cycle of change is a positive one. It leaves room to create new memories, new moments, new relationships. I cannot wait to see what these next two weeks hold, and I already dread the moment that I will have to leave and endure the devastation of the passage of time once more. So for now, I relish the gift of this present wonderful moment. I am here, I am here, I am here.