The heat breaks like a fever and fat fig leaves glitter in the rain. Had I really forgotten what a cool breeze felt like?
This first storm comes like a celebration, with dancing trees and thunder song. Swallows dot the hazy purple sky and sing, and it comes from nowhere and everywhere, like something has snapped precisely on time. Like just when I thought that summer would never end, just when I started to believe that the heat would never leave, and the air would always feel heavy, I was wrapped completely in the first real breeze of fall while thunder echoed down the mountain and across the whole valley.
And just like that, school has started. I click in heels down the dirt street and sidewalk, unbrushed hair in a lazy braid, and a kitten cries at me from the middle of the road and my entire heart twists. It limps over to me, and rubs up against my shoe, small enough to fit in my hand.
“Oh, buddy,” I bite my tongue. It doesn’t seem possible that something that small can cry that loud. There’s nothing I can do for it. My kindness or American heuristic for kittens will only teach this one that humans can be trusted and followed, which isn’t universally true. Then it creates the problem for me of something small that I can’t take care of.
So I apologize, to the kitten or whoever is listening and switch completely off the part of me that wants to ease every hurting and I walk away, click of heels and sun in my hair, the kitten limping and crying after me. I don’t look back, because I know what happens to curious women and I’ve got no business as a pillar of salt.
My club kids are almost as excited to see me in the classroom as I am to see them. After classes, they track me down in the hallway.
“Miss Maddy, yerb e skuseloo Anglereni khmback?”
“Hima chgitem,” I tell them. “I hope to start English club after two weeks.”
The look at each other and mull over my unclear Armenian.
“Mi anhangastatsek, kgtnem dzez,” I promise them. “I’ll find you guys,” I translate for myself.
In class, my counterpart has me speak about myself and lets the kids listen and try to translate. After, she asks if they have any questions for me.
“Will Miss Maddy be here next year?” A student asks in Armenian.
I nod and answer in English. “Yes. I will stay for two years.” A different student in front translates for the group.
“Do you like Armenia?”
“Yes, very much.”
A student, one of my summer English club regulars, in the back raises his hand.
“Miss Maddy,” he stands up and grins. “How are you?”
In our last lesson before school started, we went over the different ways to answer that question.
“I’m fine, thank you,” I answer, smiling. “How are you?”
“I am great,” he grins back at me.
Later, I walk home before the rain comes, and skip my run. On the back porch, my host sister I watch the sunset in pink and lavender while it rains. It is raining (անձրև գալիս է/”andzrev galis e”) for the what seems like the first time since June.
And so, right on time with the start of school, Fall started too.
(All views expressed on this site are my own and do not reflect the views of the Peace Corps, the US government or the Armenian government!)