A few weeks ago, I had to bid farewell to a group of people who were not only my friends but also family.
If I had been told before, that I would be accompanied by six people to the airport on my way back to Beirut, devastated and in tears, I would have probably laughed. I would have thought you are insane if I had been informed that more than forty people will attend my farewell dinner.
Applying to Birthright and traveling to Armenia as a volunteer, unlocked the door of meeting new people. Honestly speaking, I was actually anxious and frustrated. Why? Here’s a thought. Going to a country, even though I consider a motherland, where I have never inhabited; having to stay with a family whom I have never met before; working with new people; having no friends there. (The last time I had to make friends was in college and I had almost forgotten how to do that.)
Little did I know that my life was about to change. Little did I know that I was about to make lifetime friends. Little did I know that I was about to have a second family, and build beautiful memories that will linger on forever.
As my journey began, I started to meet new faces daily. Every face was a character, and all the eyes held a hidden story. Some stories were told, some remained a mystery. I knew that in order to make the best out of this splendid experience, I needed to socialize as soon as possible. That meant one thing: I had to overcome my shyness. After few weeks, and precisely after the Artsakh excursion, I had already met most of the volunteers and made a lot of good friends.
As time passed by, I met more people. One day I found myself within a group of young volunteers, who were from different social backgrounds, had different interests and different characters. Yet, we felt comfort in each other’s presence. We effortlessly understood each other, and that’s all that mattered. We often asked ourselves how we ended up being so close,
and but never came up with an answer. Some people call it fate, some call it a coincidence. I just say that the universe works in a mysterious way. Sometimes all we need is a beautiful mystery, something that we aren’t used to, something that challenges ourselves, something out of our comfort zone, something to make us feel alive again, something to make us feel important again, something new, something different. A change.
Within a short period of time, we were able to form a very strong bond. A bond built on respect, care and love. I knew I could count on them with everything. When I was down, they were pulling me back up. When things got rough and I needed a hug, I would find their arms wide open. When I was hungry, I always had someone to have breakfast, lunch, brunch, and diner with. Someone to give a good advice. Someone to talk to. Someone to cheer me up. Someone to make me laugh. Someone to sing and dance with. Someone to share a drink with. Someone to play arcade basketball with. Someone to grab ice cream with. Someone to share a cab with. Someone to share all the beautiful memories that I was making in the Motherland.
Weeks after weeks, I started witnessing farewells. I witnessed the sadness on people’s faces while departing. I saw almost everyone leaving unwillingly. I knew my time to go back was about to come too soon, but I didn’t want to think about that. The idea itself was depressing. I continued to enjoy every moment to quench my thirst. More days were creeping out, old volunteers leaving and new ones coming. I tried to get to know everyone. Each and everyone left an impact on this journey of my self-discovery. Things take a very fast pace once you get used to the lifestyle. That’s why I had to remind myself to pause for a while and cherish every moment.
But the bitter time had come for me to say goodbye to this chapter of my ever-changing life. I headed out to the airport, and of course, I found them next to me as always. With teary eyes, we said goodbye to each other, with a hope that one day our paths will cross again in the future. For Armenia had brought us together once, I hope it can bring us together all again. For this was not the