Monday, January 3, 2011

Catch a falling star

There are a million stars in the sky tonight, and I can see them all.

I am at someone's house who I just met today, up in the hills outside Batumi on the Black Sea. My friend James' host family has family "in" Batumi, so when James told his family that he would be meeting Katherine and I in Batumi before heading to Turkey, phone calls were made and arrangements set for us to spend the night with the relatives before heading out the next morning. By "in" Batumi, the family meant about a half-hour drive up a twisty, turn-y, bumpy, narrow dirt road cut into the side of the steep foot hills. The three of us converged on the beautiful city by the sea at various times during the day, and by 6:30 had all arrived and gotten in touch with the relatives. We met them at the prescribed spot in the city and climbed into the family marshutka (the son in the family is a marshutka driver) to jostle our way to their house.

When we arrived, the expected table of hospitality was set and we had a lovely suphra with the family. No one in the family speaks any English, so our collective Georgian was put to the test. James knows the most, so he carried the conversation and toasts. I was the target of the constant, "Tchame! Tchame!" (Eat! Eat!). When I saw the father not eating anything -- he was the one putting food on my plate and telling me to eat -- I pointed to his plate and said, "Tchame! Tchame!" Everyone loved that!

About 10 p.m. we were shown to our rooms that had been made ready for us. After putting our bags in our room, Katherine and I followed the daughter, Cristina out to the "tualeti" - the outhouse. With no lights anywhere nearby, the lights in the heavens shine so much brighter! I stood admiring the amazing stars for a few minutes after my turn at balancing over a hole in the outhouse floor. Suddenly, the sky lit up with a streak that went from one side of the sky to the other. It was the longest shooting star I have ever seen. I gasped, "Lamaziaa!" (It's beautiful!).

And now, after settling into my room, I am thinking about the shooting star. It was gone so quickly. Just a glimpse of light, and then darkness. But when the light was there, flying through space, it was captivating. That fleeting beauty is like the beauty of this family in whose home I am sleeping tonight. I don't know them, and they don't know me. But we are meeting tonight for a brief time. They say I am a good person and they are glad I am here in their home. I say they are very good people for opening their home to us. We only see glimpses of each other. Tomorrow morning we will be gone by 8 o'clock. In the span of life, my time spent in the house is a brief flash. But the impact is no less than that shooting star - I say, "Lamaziaa!" These people are beautiful, generous, and hospitable. I feel like I have caught this falling star. It will shine briefly before I move on, leaving a lasting impression on me.

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