Springing Back

After we got back from Armenia, it took a long time to get back to any sort of normal sleeping pattern. For days, I would wake up earlier than ever and start dozing off in the middle of dinner. On one of those early mornings, I got out of bed and went to Starbucks, the only place that would have me at that hour, sat with my coffee, and started writing. It was the first and only thing I’ve been able to write about the trip so far, a private poem I am giving to Crystal, forty short and sweet lines capturing just some of my amazement at the nature I got to be a part of during those two weeks. I describe how it felt as though I lived through my first spring. 

Republic Square, Yerevan

So much of what I loved about Armenia and what will stay with me is rooted in its nature. The food was real. There were flowers everywhere. I was surrounded by mountains and gorges. I was deeply aware of the ground beneath my feet and what an honor it was to stand upon it. This was not the gray land of stone I’d half-expected. We were there at such a somber time, and yet, what I constantly found myself fixated on were these natural symbols of vitality.

I’ve been telling myself for weeks that I’m going to sit down and start writing about this experience, but every time I think about it, it feels like more and more daunting a task to try to collect everything into some long synopsis. The pressure of trying has been holding me back from fully getting back to my real life in the present. I’ve decided instead to space it out and share vignettes of our trip over time.

I got a promotion right before we left for the trip, and work has been busy, to say the least. When you work in academic publishing, your work obviously revolves around the academic calendar. In other words, summer can feel like the longest and most hellish time of year. For my department, it’s been summer for weeks now. Let’s not rush this thing, people. In the real world, this is SPRINGTIME, and Jon and I have been ringing it in gloriously. In the time that we’ve been back from Armenia, we’ve gotten so much enjoyment out of family, friends, and food. I just have to keep breathing and quit whining about how tired I am. Some of the highlights:

  • My cousin Saro’s beautiful wedding was just a few days after we got home, a perfect way to reunite with my family in the best of circumstances.
  • We had two lovely Mothers’ Day celebrations, lunch at a lovely restaurant in Little Italy with Jon’s side of the family and dinner at our place with mine. I shopped the Union Square Greenmarket for the first time in ages. We ate flowers–among other things, of course.
  • Jon’s cousin Eric was in town and we spent an awesome evening walking the Highline and eating damn good Mexican food at Chelsea Market.
  • On my first summer Friday off from work, Malvina and I spent the day walking miles and miles around Lower Manhattan (where our company is moving to at the end of the summer). We impulsively decided to hop on a boat and go to Ellis Island and be tourists in our own city for a while.
  • I tried Astoria’s new Korean restaurant Mokja for the first time and had my very first bibimbap. It was killer.
  • If you haven’t noticed by now, food stirs me. I just started watching the new Netflix series Chef’s Table and the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi(both directed by David Gelb). I laughed and I cried. I literally did both of those things, they were so good. Just mesmerizing.
  • For another tasty adventure, Jon and I took a day trip to New Haven, CT last weekend. I devoured a whole white clam pizza at the legendary Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana and enjoyed a latte at Blue State Coffee. I bought watercolor pencils at Hull’s Art Supply and a coloring book from the Yale bookstore–which is, without exaggeration, the best Barnes and Noble I’ve ever seen. (And yes, I’ve just taken up coloring.) We wandered the sprawling Yale campus, which is not actually a campus but a whole damn town. I became intimate with the cookbook shelf at the Book Trader Cafe.

  • I’ve had some great reads lately. I’m almost done with Yes Please by Amy Poehler. I just started it on the train to work yesterday and quickly laughed my way to the finish line. I absolutely adored Matthew Amster-Burton’s Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater and highly recommend it to anyone who loves food, has kids, or has any desire to do either of those thingsI also just finished Robin Schulman’s Eat the City, a living history of the many means of local food production that against all odds have survived in New York City, from beekeeping to urban farming.
  • And speaking of urban farming, Brooklyn Grange opened for the season and our CSA started up, which I’m so very into and can’t wait to play with over the coming months. I’ll write again very soon about how we’ve prepared all our goodies so far. You see, I find myself eating flowers.