Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back in the Former USSR

Returning to Georgia has been a curious, almost surreal experience. It is hard to articulate just what it has been like. The newness of arriving last year is gone. Looking back on my time in the United States over the summer, I did not realize just how quickly I acclimated to life there again, with the exception of grocery shopping. That was something I struggled with. In American stores it was hard to deal with all the premade, preservative filled nonsense that crowds the stores. After Georgia I just wanted ingredients or things made from what they should be, like bread. An ingredient list in Georgia would be about 5 items long for bread, but in the US it is like a paragraph.

However, since returning to Georgia I've been surprised at how I just slipped back into life here. I know much better than I thought what life is like here. I guess Georgian life has ingrained itself in me, and I now can easily move between the 2 worlds of America and Sakartvelo. Sure, something things still irritate me, like the lack of customer service in restaurants, especially after a summer of giving superb customer service in the restaurant where I worked. But mostly, I accept life here for what it is. Last year when I arrived, I came with all these idealistic notions about what I could accomplish, a sentiment held by many of my friends as well. We quickly realized that without things like electricity, chalk, or water many of these would not come to pass. Now I have a much more realistic viewpoint about what I can do. I am going to focus on the small successes and call it good. It took many months of contemplating my friend Zviad's advice that I am doing more than I know to actually accept that. I will do what I can, and I will call it good.

This year I am living in a flat, a new experience for sure. Despite being in Georgia only 10 days, I'm already in my second flat. The first one was with a great family, however, the guilt of my arrival displacing the mother to the sofa was hard to deal with. No one should have to give up their bed for me for an entire year. Yesterday I moved to a different, very large flat. I would say that it is decorated in the Soviet Splendor circa 1962: concrete, grey, and limited lighting. In it's day it was probably the type of flat that the proletariat would pine for. The family has 5 people, and so far I am not aware of displacing anyone. I've only met the Bebia (grandmother), as the rest of the family is in the village. She said that she never had a daughter so I will be her daughter. She said this about 5 minutes after meeting me. The location is about 500 feet from my school, which is good. My aunt and cousin were concerned that there would be no running water, but it does have that. Added bonus: I now live about 200 feet from my friend Zviad, which is good. He has many plans for our hanging out over the next year.