Some places, Armenia, The Center of the World. Find me on a map. Tourist guide notes: the Kingdom of Armenia, or remote Ottoman corner, or U.S.S.R. food belly, or sayeth now Republic of ‘velvet’ movements is not a static place.
I am in the dusty Mercedes district. Noted. A man from Dubai said these dusty luxuries are the ‘poor mans car’. Noted. I am American, rather I am a Statehood. I am Armenian. Bureau classified Caucasian. Default characteristic equals loud, fill in the blank. I have blue eyes, green, red eyes often. When the sun hits me over the Caucasus, my eyes wince in displeasure. I am of the shade. I have walked in places with the sun, swift garments, horizon gazing steps over Lake Sevan. Passé steps into the sun, sway away.
But when I see the men and women on the stones and only slightly cracked cement of Yerevan, the gravel of Gyumri, I am reminded that my eyes are not the only ones that see. And they may not be the only ones that are directly displeased with such directness the sun brings to me. The people who sell these walnuts crouch over small cardboard boxes. It is October, it is the time of harvest. A cherished time. Every box is the same box. But they do not all sing the same way. Songs and tools we use to make our way. Wandering black and gray birds that flock in all-over-the-place, beds of marigolds. Dusty kittens and dusty dogs behind walls of pink.
These boxes sing a song I think I know.
Yerevan turns two thousand and eight hundred years old this month. Wikipedia says so. That makes it older than Rome. Noted. Quite the testament of time. Tree lined streets and drinking fountains. Misunderstood, not pagans. Misunderstood citizens of the great forever war. Graveyard epochs and burgeoning imaginations lean toward something new, toward something, not the same. Time reminds us when time was not so kind. Time reminds us to forget.
Maybe it was two thousand and eight hundred years ago this day that I heard this song. Or maybe it was just a century ago. The song of the walnuts in the trees, and again this song with the walnuts in the cardboard boxes, sometimes bags, on some street.
Ar-mean-yah, with dark solid squares risen no higher than four stories. Walnuts in the streets, walnuts holding hammers, chirp chirp this song goes.
The leaves have begun to change, in Tsaghkadzor, in Dilijan, in Gyumri. The chill brings with it a swifter melody of song from the walnuts as they gasp their last days in the sun. Adidas tracksuits, crumbled leaves assorted around a box of walnuts singing song. Reminiscent.
Build tall today. Higher than four stories. Challenge Mount Ararat. The fires burn eternal atop the mountain, and still so atop higher rising buildings. Kim Kardashian is a woman, full stop. Tradition, full stop. Enduring fields of rock that burn and burn. Black fields at the hand of the shepherd.
Little seeds of hemp and walnuts that never die.
Yes, that is the song. Every day I am here I hear this song more boldly, higher still. Walnuts bring it all back to me. Unsaturated and uncracked nuts, sold in recycled plastic bags. Tune into the no name streets of lore.
Many statues to not forget, beheaded Lenin, maybe, ‘let’s forget’, stones atop other stones, and dancing chess pieces. Brown eyes that pick the very best walnuts in cardboard boxes.
Images | Julièn Godman