"I Want to Be a Friend to Your Excitement."

In May of last year, during a trip to the Caucasus, I had the good fortune of being able to travel for a week with a friend from Bishkek, my friend, Elise, and her husband, JC. My friend and I first spent a week exploring (and eating amazing food in) Georgia, and at the end of our journey there, Elise and JC met us at a wine chateau in Telavi, where we departed together for our road trip to Armenia the next morning.

When we got in the car the next morning, Elise said, "Mandy, I want to be a friend to your excitement. What is one thing you want to do during our trip?" I said, "Run through a poppy field!" An hour later, JC spotted a poppy field and pulled the car over. At first, I looked over at a barrier of a giant ditch and said, "You guys, we should wait to find an easier field to get to!" However, JC and Elise encouraged us to get out of the car because, "Mandy! What if we don't get another opportunity? What if there are no more poppy fields on our journey?" The next thing I know, I was excitedly running through a poppy field.

When we got back in the car, Elise told us that she knew JC's excitement was to use his winch. Turns out, JC had invested quite a bit in a winch, which is this mechanical rope device on the back of the truck that is so strong it can pull cars out of ditches or mud. JC had spent weeks and months driving around with it, but not having an opportunity to use it. On our first day of driving, we all looked everywhere for a stranded car. JC even smiled with excitement when it rained, knowing he would likely find a car stuck in the mud shortly after the rain stopped. The next day, when we turned down the dirt road to Zorats Karer (Carahunge), we saw a stranded Volga. JC was stoked. Two young boys, probably around 15 years of age, noticed JC's winch and approached him for help with getting their Volga out of the mud. Needless to say, JC was excited to help.

Elise then asked my friend what her excitement was. "I want to ride the Wings of Tatev, the longest reversible aerial tram in the world." We then headed toward Tatev. The drive was incredibly beautiful and very deep in to Armenia, but we started to grow concerned because it was a little windy. While reading the Lonely Planet, we learned that there is always a chance that you get all the way to Tatev (seven or so hours from Yerevan) and you're unable to ride the tram because there is too much wind. We were a little nervous about that possibility but decided to venture on. Several hours later, we arrived and were happy to find out that the wind had settled down and that we could ride the tram to the monastery. It was a very cool ride, the monastery was absolutely wonderful and peaceful, and my friend was giddy with excitement.  

When we got back in the car to head toward Yerevan, we asked Elise if she had decided on her excitement. "I want to go to Geghard Monastery." Geghard is a 4th century monastery complex built out of a mountain just outside of Yerevan. After spending a couple of days exploring Yerevan and drinking delicious Ararat cognac, on our last day in Armenia, we finally made it to Geghard. Geghard ended up being one of our favorite monasteries in Armenia because of the amazing choir we heard while there and the fact that it was so old, peaceful and well preserved. On the way out of the monastery, Elise was excited to buy a flower crown and proudly wore it all the way home.

In the end, all four of us had not only experienced our own excitement, we had each been friends to each others' excitement. I picked up a valuable lesson from my time with Elise and JC, which is that while time doesn't usually permit you to see and do every single thing you're curious about, it's actually more than enough to just pick a couple of things we each want to do and then support and prioritize each others' excitement.