Contextual Change

Youth Corps 2011

BY VREJ HAROUTOUNIAN

Moscow airport. Waiting to board the plane to Armenia. As I look around I think about how context around us affects us on the most cellular level. How the scale of buildings, the materials that are around us, people’s faces, colors, temperature etc, have an immediate effects on our mental and physical selves. I rewind to the last immediate contextual change that had taken place before the airport and that placed me in my father’s pickup truck driving to the airport in a context that is more personal to me.  The 1996 Ford F-150, a beast of a truck, mowing down the road on the 8 lane concrete highway as we converse about my father’s ideals for the future. I kiss my father goodbye, jump out the truck, grab my bag from the back I immediately realize that I have entered the context of LAX airport; a context shared by all the travelers there. A context not new to me, a context that lacks permanence, a context of transition and transition. The larger then life interior spaces, with people moving around on their way to different ticketing counters, or the seats that people only sit in for temporary comfort on their way to another context of their choosing. In my case I was about to change the context of my life in Los Angeles to Yerevan in 32 hours, having covered 1500 miles of separation, a context that is unclear yet defined from previous experiences and memory.

As I check in my bag and walk through security clearance, I start thinking about all my previous travels and the different contexts of my life experiences since my youth, and how they have changed my perception of the world, and especially its people all of which have left positive influences on my life, including the people of Armenia.

I am sitting on the floor of the Moscow airport, my back to the glass, behind which is the airplane is being prepared for our  2.5 hour flight to Armenia. I left Los Angeles alone and now I was traveling with 4 people who I met at JFK during our 8 hour layover. Two younger men my age who were heading back to see family, one older gentlemen whose family lived in Armenia who was bringing guitars back to sell and cover the cost of his trip, and a fourth who would be there for only one week seeing family after which he would travel to Moscow for a week and return to Los Angeles and reopen his body shop business on Foothill in Tujunga.

We somehow all came together and decided to create a new context, and proceeded to do so by sharing our food, ordering sandwiches, drinking coffee and playing cards. We created a context more familiar to us in the context of transition. Afterwards we were all together, we would check in together go through security together sit on the same row in the plane together, and move around the airport together. Until Armenia these 5 men were inseparable from each other.

As we landed at the airport and walked out to our waiting friends. I remember the last face of relief as he slowly nodded his head in approval of our choice to create our own experience throughout the contextual transition of Los Angles to Yerevan. We had stuck with each other the whole way never leaving each other to be alone and we were back in the context of our homeland free to disperse into the unity of our people.

A few days later as I round the corner of the building where the First Republic of Armenia was proclaimed, I run into a group of my friends all waiting outside for the opening ceremony of the 31st World Congress of the ARF. My context has changed and my eyes scan the faces looking my memory sends inputs to my consciousness with information about their identity. I am amongst friends we talk recall the past, shake hands, hug, a few of us who had interact often in Los Angeles shake hands with each other with smiles as we are happy to see each other at the doorsteps of a meeting that will bring together the will of the people it was created to serve and strategize on how to make that a reality in the next four years. As I enter the context of the hall with its strong walls and heavy quality, I am surrounded by people that are here to make change, the hall is packed with Armenians from near and far with one common goal, the betterment of the lives of the Armenian people wherever they may be. I think about the context of my life at the moment and come to the conclusion that when me and my four friends met at the airport we created a small Armenia for ourselves in an absolutely unfamiliar transitory context of different airports. What would this group do of hundreds, that would spent the next few days together in the context of their homeland.

Now I sit on my friends balcony, my immediate context is an abandoned factory with broken glass, a yellow Lada with fruit boxes in the backseat, a few unkempt trees, birds chirping, the heat of Yerevan in the summer, and a man strolling through the alley street.

This is my context now, this is my reality, this is where I write to you from, it might not be shiny, it might not be as clean as we’d like, but it is my context, the context of the capital of our homeland. I write in between phone calls as we make arrangements for the arrival of the participants of AYF Youth Corps, with the hopes that they will come to understand and appreciate the context of our homeland in the way that we have.

From Yerevan with love.

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