End of first week

Tomorrow is a holiday. There’s no school, so I can do whatever I want. How is it possible that I’ve found so much happiness this far from my home country? I love my host family so much I’m ready to devote my life to their cause. What’s their cause? Family. Babies. Home. Community. Old people. Young people. Education. Hard work. HARD WORK! I’ve never met anyone who works this hard. My host father (Vaso) works harder than anyone I’ve ever known! Teona works harder than any teenager I’ve ever known! College is hard? PLEASE!

I met a few more family members tonight. I guess we had another Supra. I mean, there’s really no doubt, but it wasn’t anything I was expecting. Tomorrow is a national holiday. There’s no school. But I didn’t expect to see so many family members showing up this evening. Vaso worked late. He didn’t arrive home until 8pm. And when he got here, he stayed outside and stomped grapes until 9:30. Misha was here too. And, Goocha. I can’t tell you how they are related. I can’t tell you for certain if they’re related at all! I can’t tell you who is married to whom!  I just know they love each other. And for some ridiculous reason, they love me too.

Vaso brought home some beef. After they were done stomping grapes and storing the  grape juice, they started a wood fire and cooked the beef with tons of salt and red wine as seasoning. Diabetes and heart disease? What the hell is that? Seriously, these people don’t consider the consequences of their actions, and I’m beginning to believe none of it matters. They eat, and they drink like there’s no tomorrow, but they deserve it! I’ve never known a community that works this hard, and is so devoted to one another. They know their place. They know their duties. They embrace their lives. It’s incredible.

I’m in love. I’m in love with their home. I’m in love with their way of life. I’m in love with the women, young and old. I’m in love with the men, and the way they honor each other with toasts of wine and 12 hour work days, one after another, over and over. I’m in love with “Nazo Babo” (grandmother) who I’ve seen working and working and working and working. She never stops working. Cleaning, cooking, making wine, tending the garden, washing clothes, cleaning the house, minding the store, the list goes on and on. She never stops working! If I’m awake, she’s working. How can I be lazy? How can I waste my life doing ridiculous things that amount to nothing when she’s working so hard to provide a better life for her family? The entire world needs to pay attention to this example of tireless self-sacrifice and dedication to family and community. But they won’t.

I haven’t felt this way in 30 years. And I’m completely aware that it’s probably fiction. That it’s probably fake, and imaginary. Eventually I’m going to come to my senses. Eventually the honeymoon will wear off!

At the moment it seems all of these fears are completely imagined. As far as they’re concerned, I’m a good person, and America is a wonderful country they admire and respect. I walked into another English class today and there was a brand new art display on the wall. It was handmade, and it read “You are welcome, We Love America”. How is this possible? What have we done to deserve this opinion? I remember in 2008 when Obama suggested in a campaign speech that America should give 1 billion $ aid to Georgia because of the Russian occupation in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. He was scoffed and ridiculed by the right. Admonished, even by the moderates. It was an outlandish idea! We’re broke! Georgia is worthless! A fledgling democracy? So what! Where’s the oil? In retrospect I think his words were nothing more than an inconsequential lie to seduce people like me into believing he was a true liberal, a true socialist and humanitarian. I’ve come to believe he is nothing more than a puppet to corporate power, like any other politician in America. I’m pessimistic about my country’s future.

I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in virtue. I believe in celebrating life. I believe in love. I believe in babies, and raising a family. I believe in helping our neighbors. I believe in selfish pride for the sake of helping the next generation reach their potential, and I believe in honoring the dead with our actions.

Tonight, we toasted to the most important things in life. We toasted to our sisters and brothers. We toasted to Mothers. We toasted to children and babies. We toasted to sweet memories. We toasted to our countries. We toasted to our love for one another. We toasted to long life. I started to weep in the company of strangers, and everyone laughed at me, and I laughed with them.


11 responses to “End of first week

  1. This is beautiful, Carl. I think you’ve found your profession. You’re a writer! You have a message your home country needs to hear. Take care to send it with love and forgiveness, leaving any trace of bitterness from the past behind. Your photographs will be a lovely addition to your masterwork!

  2. Glad to hear you toasted your SISTER!
    Remember when Andrew said he wanted to stay in China until everything had become ordinary to him. That will eventually happen to you, so keep writing these revelations down so you’ll remember how you felt when it was all wondrous and new.

    • and by the way…I’m sure the only reason I didn’t hear “fathers” in the list is because only MEN can make toasts at a Supra (and only if they’re appointed to the task), and I’m pretty sure it would be considered selfish or boastful to include yourself in a toast (everyone is a father here, except 7 yr old Giorgi and myself).

  3. Oh my goodness, Carl, I am about to weep too.
    I am thrilled that you are experiencing this, and that you are in love with it. This was meant to be. Are you allowed to help in the garden?
    Are you doing English lessons at home?
    Thank you for writing so much. Keep it up. We will get more to dial in and follow what you are living.
    To Life!

  4. I started to help Babua pick up the piles of dead grape leaves she made this morning…she became angry! I thought she was going to hit me! Haha!

    I’m definitely giving English lessons at home. Teona has some kind of English test coming up and I’ve been helping her with pronunciation and irregular verbs. I think she’s already improved a great deal. I’m constantly bothering her to practice W, TH and R sounds. I think it’s interesting that Giorgi can make these sounds without any problem, but he lacks the motivation to memorize vocabulary. Diana and Nazi are more interested in teaching me how to speak Georgian.

    I haven’t been asked to teach English to anyone beyond 6th grade at school…really not sure why. I’m kinda bummed about that, but maybe I can help with other activities.

  5. Жаль, что я не знаю английский, и не могу читать в орегинале. Но даже через перевод я прочувствовала все эмоции, которые тебя переполняют )
    Делай попытки помочь, не здавайся!)

  6. Carl, enjoying your blog! I’m looking forward to a სუფრა and trying some of the food and the wine!

    For pronunciation of “th” and other sounds, maybe try to think how you position your tongue/lips to make the sounds. For example, with “th” the tip of your tongue is on your top front teeth.

    For Georgian, I’m not sure if I am pronouncing the ხ or ღ correctly!

  7. Hi I am reading this as I am applying for a volunteer position in Georgia, and all I hear is how welcoming folks are. I know what you mean with the rural communities as I have been involved with them in Russia they are very friendly and will share their last crust of bread with you. It is a different way of life as you have discovered, and is very rewarding and reading what you have written has brought back some of the emotions I felt when in Southern Russia training some of the villagers in farming. It makes you feel very humble.
    Good posts and thanks,

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