Just down the hill from my place is a tiny vegetable store. As I walk by every day the storekeeper calls out my name. But, instead of calling me Emily, which a lot of people seem to have trouble saying here, she calls "Ellena!!" I've told her I don't know how many times that's not my name, but now it is just a joke. But the bigger joke is on me. Its been a year now since I've lived on this road, and I still don't know her name! I'm not sure if she ever actually introduced herself to me, but now its just too late and embarrassing to ask!
When I first moved to this side of town her son Artur was running the shop. We would exchange hello's everyday, talk about something that happened that day and he'd give me the brotherly, "if anyone ever gives you any trouble you just tell me." Then her daughter was running the place for a while. Everyday she would ask me to give her English lessons. When she finally started coming to work in the store everyday, I really started to stop in more just for a rest and conversation. In the extreme heat of the summer I would walk in and sit on a bag of flour in the corner and we would talk about America and Armenia. There was always another tatik sitting in the shop and I would always get the usual run around. Are you married? Why aren't you married? Marry an Armenian man and stay in Armenia!
It takes a while to finally realize that people in your community know you. When I leave for a few days at a time, I always have to walk by this store. She always asks me where I am going and when I will be home. If by chance I don't see her one day the next I have to hear about how much she missed me. I'll always treasure the friendships I have made here. I think I might even ask her name today!
*Her name is Anahit. Nice to know you Anahit!