“The Last Hayrenatarts was in 1948”

I had stopped to buy a kilogram or 2 of luscious apricots at the mouth of the subway station near where I live when the old woman selling them said these words. She’d asked where I was from and what I was doing in Armenia. I’d answered that I am a “Hayrenatarts” or repatriate. It appears that in her mind no one moves back to the homeland, a conclusion reached upon staring at her befuddled face. She didn’t ask me why I had moved to Armenia though. Some ask, but often they write it off as a deep love for country and people. There is always this look, a word placed carefully here and there, that gives the impression that they don’t think you’ll stay for long. After all, everyone’s leaving. The next question is “for how long” and they wait in expectation that you give them an exact date. No one considers the move to be with a one-way ticket, it seems. Yet, I don’t get the same bets I did when I was still in Canada and telling friends and family I am going home for good. No one says I will last a year or less here, but they do wonder at my sanity like everyone else. There are, however, many who have returned from Russia of their own will, out of love for country and desire to stick to their roots. Furthermore, I did meet locals who had spent years in America, only to return to Armenia disgusted with the lifestyle in Los Angeles. I’m not the first nor the last “hayrenatarts” currently in Yerevan. People like me, who have lived outside Armenia all their lives and have finally returned, have the capability to create the diversity much needed in the country, without fear of cultural assimilation. Each of us have a different perspective to offer, a different language to speak, and a different vision of a better Armenia. We’re not here to save the world, but our very presence inspires hope in those who have forgotten the worst aspects of the Communist regime and yearn for easier days with easy money. We work hard and create our own futures, hand in hand now with the local population used to sheer homogeneity of culture, language and thought process. The latest Hayrenatarts Armenians are in 2013!

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