Armenia has a smell. It hit me the moment I stepped off of the airplane, jet lagged and vowing (once again) to never fly through Moscow. It lingers on my skin, long after I’ve showered, making me feel like a physical part of this country.
Sometimes Armenia’s smell is fresh; my first successful load of laundry hanging on our clothesline, for the neighbors to (literally) see; ten kilos of almost-ripe apricots, over-ripe cherries, baby strawberries, and sour apples that I lugged home from a nearby fruit stand; the steaming Armenian coffee that I can occasionally beg Arpa to make for me; our first family meal (Armenian macaroni, like my medzmama used to make) when Shant arrived; the daisies, now wilted, that still brighten our kitchen table.
Other times, Armenia’s smell is older, musty, almost harsh on the nose; the smell of my orphans’ unclean clothes, worn for three straight days; the smell of my host family’s outhouse in Gogaran, toilet paper-less and suffocating; the smell of the fruit-stand lady’s breath as she questioned why I am not yet married; the cheese that is so fresh that it tastes funny; the skin of the doughy taxi driver when he explained that Armenia should still be a part of the Soviet Union, for the sake of the economy.
Armenia has a smell. She smells like her history and her people. She is fresh with new ideas, technology, young children that hold our future. She smells older, musty with the sweat and hard work of her people, the hardship that cannot be washed away. Armenia smells, in many ways, like Home.