A Summer Without Hayastan

Martuni, Artsakh, AYF Youth Corps 2014

They say, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I have to admit that’s true. For the past five years, I have visited Armenia at least once every year for various reasons. This summer, I decided to pursue my education here in Boston, which consequently meant that I would not be able to travel to Armenia. It was a hard decision, but everyday is just one day closer to landing at Zvartnots. 

I miss my friends. I miss Camp Javakhk. I miss AYF Youth Corps. I miss the village life. I miss sitting on top of Cascade until the crack of dawn, singing at the top of my lungs, ordering homemade bottles of wine from someone’s neighbor’s brother’s uncle’s cousin’s son. I even miss waking up sweating in 100 degree heat at the mercy of a broken air conditioner. I miss waking up and grabbing that bottle of Byuregh I put in the fridge at 4:00 A.M. before going to sleep. I miss sitting at Meghedy cafe in Opera and watching my beautiful country change for the better, right before my eyes. How I long for those days…

I love that feeling of walking with no destination. That happens a lot in Yerevan.

What I miss most of all is my people, the streets, the sights, the drives. I can still smell the mixture of cigarettes and perfume while walking down Abovyan Street. I can picture the children, our future leaders, running around freely, many of them working hard to earn money for their families. I hear their giggles, too. I even feel the bumpy ride to Artsakh. That feeling of finally getting to Stepanakert’s Hrabarag. I hear the Zontikner waterfall. I can imagine the feeling of contentedness at Saro’s House – the one with no address, barely a road to get to, but everyone knows Saro’s House. We’re in Shushi after all… if only. The never-ending genatses, the khorovadz, the pig fat and potatoes. Those nights really make you appreciate being who we are. Armenians, through and through. Our traditions are really unlike anyone else’s. Our language, our history, our culture, our songs, … I wouldn’t even know where to begin. 

My favorite street art

And those Yerevan nights. We don’t appreciate walking down streets enough. I realize this now. I love that feeling of walking with no destination. That happens a lot in Yerevan. It’s not really about where you’re going. It’s about appreciating where you are in that moment. It’s overwhelming, really.

I see posts on social media and envy people for all of the fun they are having. All of the incredible food they’re eating. I recently told a friend who is in Armenia now, ‘I don’t wish this feeling upon anyone.’ It’s like a pit in your stomach sort of feeling. The type of feeling you get as a kid when you don’t get your favorite colored popsicle, but someone else does. Maybe that was just me. The work we do here in the diaspora keeps us going and reminds us of what we have there. Regardless, it’s still difficult being so far away from a place where you feel so at home. A place where you can truly call home. I think this summer without Hayastan made me realize that I… WE…can never take her for granted. I know I’m not the only one with all of these feelings, with all of this longing and love for her. What I know to be even more true, is that our country will thrive so long as we take care of her, love her and fight for her forever.

Akhalkalak, Javakhk, Camp Javakhk 2016
Ani Khachatourian

Ani Khachatourian

Ani Khachatourian is a member of the Armenian Youth Federation – Youth Organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (AYF-YOARF) Greater Boston “Nejdeh” chapter. She is an Emerson College graduate student, and she works in Special Education.
Ani Khachatourian

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1 Comment

  1. Lovely article by Ani Khachatourian!

    “Our traditions are really unlike anyone else’s. Our language, our history, our culture, our songs…” Yes, absolutely, as well as our unique Armenian surnames.


    Yev minchev verj menq pashtpanelu enq mer poqrik Hayastan@!

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