It’s been a few weeks since I left Georgia. Or Sakartvelo, as they call it in their own language. It’s been relaxing to be home. But before more time passes, I wanted to write a little something to capture some of my experiences from and feelings about Georgia.
My Sakartvelo is mountains in every direction, with rivers running through them, and quiet villages stretching along their sides and in their valleys. But my Sakartvelo is also trash along riverbanks and lakeshores and roadsides and fields and everywhere else outside of a trash bin.
My Sakartvelo is maneuvering through muddy roads on the way to school while exchanging smiles and greetings with neighbors. And my Sakartvelo is walking back hand in hand with one of my girls until a student (or myself) starts a wrestling match or battle, and we’re forced to disperse and gather sticks or berries or whatever ammunition is available nearby.
My Sakartvelo is being emotionally exhausted with the realization that my personal mental health and happiness require human interaction-not simply speaking or being spoken too, but being understood and understanding others. And yet, my Sakartvelo is all the strength that develops through hardship, and the increased appreciation of a uniquely human gift that is so often taken for granted.
My Sakartvelo is ready acceptance into a home away from home, complete with little siblings to both annoy and enamor me. But my Sakartvelo is also the frustration of being subject to the rules and protection of a traditional family in an extremely male-dominant society.
My Sakartvelo is a dozen smiles at once, between little ears that don’t know how to listen on little bodies that don’t know how to sit still…but are at least drawing me pictures or offering me candies while ignoring me. Yes, my Sakartvelo is affection freely given. And, in a culture where teachers are friends and neighbors instead of strangers to be feared, my Sakartvelo is the freedom to return that affection with hugs and kisses and arms around shoulders.
My Sakartvelo is not being able to make the difference I want to make. It’s a broken education system that I don’t have the power to fix or work around. But my Sakartvelo is the confirmation, through hours of trying anyway, and of day dreaming about what I would do if I could, that education truly is important to me. This is a priority that will demand my attention many times more in my life.
My Sakartvelo is countless beautiful churches. And yet my Sakartvelo is countless empty crosses, always with the right hand…starting at a head that is empty of Christ’s words, then to somewhere between the ribs, then to the right shoulder, and then finally to the left; reaching twice over a heart that is empty of his love.
My Sakartvelo is the flattery of being a novelty because of my nationality, but my Sakartvelo is also the danger of that novelty when combined with Hollywood stereotypes of loose women and the entitlement of men who see filling their sexual appetites as a natural right and necessity.
Really, in the end, I love Georgia. Maybe I hate her. But I love her too. I think many TLG veterans would agree with me that to love Georgia is to let her slap you in the face whenever she feels like, and then still hold her hand. I’m not sure if she’s easy to fall in love with or I just fall in love easily. Maybe a bit of both. My feelings for her are not unlike those I had for my ex-boyfriend from when I was 18. He was horrible to me. He made me miserable. And yet I still loved him. Even worse, I thought I could fix him. That we could become better together.
Having said that…there is some difference. Because honestly, there is a lot more potential for change in Georgia than there ever was in my ex. It may not come to fruition in my lifetime, but revolution is already in the works.
So love, I shall <3