Last Friday at the bus station in Zugdidi I met one of the bus driver's assistants whom I had talked with the weekend before when I went to Bakuriani. He had shown me to my seat on the bus and made sure that the driver knew where I needed to get off in Kashuri. On Friday, he again showed me to my seat and made sure I was settled in just before the bus was to leave. He introduced himself to me (although I didn't catch his name) and asked my name. I told him, and then he asked what my phone number was (all this in Georgian -- he doesn't know any English). I decided that it couldn't hurt to give him my number. He took out his phone and put in the numbers as I said them -- rva, shvidi, shvidi, ori, sami, tskhra, shvidi, o, sami. He smiled and got off the bus.
No sooner had we pulled out of the parking lot of the bus station, and my phone rang.
"Alo, Stepani? Shen aqvs messaging teleponshi?" (Hello, Stephanie? Do you have texting on your phone?)
I answered, "Ki batono." (Yes, of course.)
Then he started saying something that I didn't understand, and I said, "Bodishi, ver gavige. Tsota qartuli vitsi." (I'm sorry, I don't understand. I only know a little Georgian.)
He said, "Kargi, kargad" (Okay, bye), and hung up.
Then the text messages started. Nine of them. I only understood three of them, and I answered those as well as I could, but the others.....well, I debated having Tea translate them for me when I got back from my trip. I was slightly afraid of what they might say.....
Tonight Tea and I were talking about men hitting on women and relationships here and in the U.S., and I remembered the text messages. I told her about the guy who I had met at the bus station and showed her the texts. She started reading the first one and howled with laughter as I scrolled down through the message for her -- she translated for me, "Stepani, when you went to Bakuriani last week I wanted to meet you. You have very beautiful eyes. I really like you." Oh, dear. Here we go.
The next one I had understood, "Stepani, are you German?" I had replied to this one that no, I'm not -- I'm American.
Tea got a real kick out of the third one. She laughed and laughed before translating, "Take me with you when you go to America. I'll teach you Georigan. I really like you. When are you coming back to Zugdidi?"
Fourth, "How do you like Georgia?" This is a fairly standard question I get from any Georgian I meet. I would've understood it, but he had misspelled a word and had used a word I didn't know for "Georgia."
Fifth, "When are you going back to America?" This one I had understood and I replied as well as I could, except I didn't know how to say "June" in Georgian, so I wrote some Georgian with "in June" in English. He misunderstood what I said, so his next message cracked Tea up all over again --
"You're going tomorrow?" We laughed and laughed at this one!
I got a new name in the seventh one. "Stepani, Beautiful, how is your trip going?" I had understood a form of the word "beautiful" here, but didn't recognize it as a name.
All of those texts came while I was en route to Tbilisi. The next day I got two more. The first one I understood, "How are you?" The last one he sent was a picture of a rose.
Tea and I laughed and laughed at the texts. The crazy, disjointed communication -- or lack of communication was pretty entertaining. We laughed so hard, our faces and sides hurt. When we had finally gotten over the funniness of it all, Tea made a comment that laughter is good for our health and will make us live longer. Then she said that as much as we laugh, we'll live to be 130.
If that's true, I've barely begun living!