I was walking as fast as I could without technically running. Mery’s text had come as a surprise, but I did not want to miss the chance to see her again before I left. We had met a month ago on the flight into Yerevan. I still remember when I first saw her walking down the plane’s aisle. I prayed to God she was in the seat next to mine. He answered that prayer. How I got her to give me her number I will never know. She was out of my league. Yet, I was now halfway to the Dalma Gardens’ Mall to meet her.

It was hot. That midday, Middle Eastern sun was beating down hard on the back of my neck. There were some trees along the path I was walking, but they did not cast enough shade to provide any real relief. The French ambassador had told me that most of the big trees in Yerevan had been cut down for firewood in the early 90’s, and apparently the French had to negotiate a separate deal when they bought the land for their embassy to keep theirs.

I could now see the Dalma Gardens’ Mall in the distance, sticking out like a sore thumb amid the greenery of the fruit trees and grape vines of the Dalma Gardens. Mery said her aunts took her shopping, but she would be able to walk around and chat for a few minutes while they were trying on dresses for a wedding. As I got closer, I could see her standing outside wearing the same light blue bumper she had worn when we visited the National Art Gallery.



“So, what do you want to do? Walk around the mall?”

“No, I don’t want my aunts seeing me with a boy. Let’s walk around in the gardens.”

I spotted a dirt path leading down into the greenery. I think we both nearly lost our footing during the descent, but we made it down and among the tree rows. As we started to walk and talk, an old man appeared from behind a small grove of fig trees. He said something in Armenian, and Mery replied back.

“He says we can have some of his grapes if we like.”

“Spasiba!” I shouted, figuring the old timer would understand my limited Russian just as well.

He gave a small wave and returned to whatever he had been doing.

The grapes were technically a breed best for wine, but they still tasted delicious. Mery and I grabbed a clutch each and continued our perambulation through the gardens.

Armenia amazed me. It was literally the Garden of Eden. All the old farmers had to do to raise this bounty was drop a seed and water it regularly. It was as if when God made this land, he gave for it the same instructions you would see on a cup of instant noodles, just add water.

These plants needed as much water as they could get. That sun was just murder. It’s like the old song goes, Mad Dogs and Englishman. The heat was bearable while we were under the trees, which covered an area of several hundred acres subdivided into little dachas and privately managed plots, but once we stepped onto a more exposed lane, it became worse.

I desperately looked for some shade where we could just stop for a few minutes, eat the grapes, and talk. I saw what looked like an old, stone barn just up the lane.

“Do you want to look inside there?”

“Yes.” As she wiped away a bead of sweat from her forehead.

It was old, older than I initially thought.

“I think it may be Persian,” she said, looking at the details of the stonework.

“Wow, and you said they might be bulldozing a lot of this to expand the mall?”


“Damn. This thing is probably older than Christ, and if the dozers don’t get it, it could probably stand for another thousand years.”

There was a little shelf built into the wall which we both could sit on. I told her about the trip I had taken up to Tavush. She told me about a party her family had held for her cousin who had gotten engaged. We talked, but we both had the same thing on the mind. I kissed her, and she kissed back.

It was lovely. I wish it could have lasted ‘til night fell. Then her phone rang. It was her aunts. They had finished and wanted to know where she was. We collected ourselves and started the walk back to the mall. We spoke of visiting each other in New York and Nice respectively, but I think we both knew this was the end of our mutual story.