Friday, March 11, 2011

Risky business

A crap shoot.... or the lottery.... or maybe Providence....

Feel free to pick a frame of reference for my use of the word "lucky." I think it's Provincial -- but a crap shoot could be just as fitting.

Last evening as I hung out in the kitchen with the entire family (minus Elene -- she had gone to her grandmother's house for the night, leaving the rest of us to a night of peace and quiet), Koba made a comment about my being a family member. I don't remember what the conversation was leading up to this statement, but he said that I am not a guest anymore. He and the rest of the family think of me as one of them. "Our grandmother" heartily agreed with her throaty, "Ho-o!" and Tea nodded thoughtfully. They had said this a couple of months ago, but this time it was different -- more familial -- more homey -- more personal.

That started a discussion of how lucky we all feel with my being placed in this wonderful host family's care for my time here in Georgia. I have heard of several TLG teachers who, for one reason or another, did not get along with the family they were placed in, and had to move or are just sticking it out however unhappily. And Tea has heard from some host families whose TLG teachers did not fit in with the family....again for various reasons. She added that she feels so lucky to have me -- and I reiterated that I feel equally lucky to have them.

I asked her if she is going to put her name in to have another teacher stay with them for the next semester after I leave. She pursed her lips over to one side (her thoughtful-decision expression) and paused for a few seconds. "I don't know...... I don't think so. Unless you come back -- then without a second thought, yes." We talked for a few minutes about her desire to improve her English skills and the benefit of having an English speaker under the same roof, but next year she will have more classes at school which means more time away from home. She doesn't think she will have time to care for someone new. Whereas I know my way around now -- around town, around the village, around school, around the kitchen. I'm not new anymore (thank God!), and she doesn't feel like she needs to look after me (so much) anymore. But if she had another new teacher, she would have to initiate them to the area like she did with me. And she would have to get used to a new person....

The process of "getting used to" each other is a tricky one (another 'stoke of luck' or 'lucky dice-roll' or 'act of God' for my home-placement here). Personality conflicts are possible, straight-up dislike is possible. Or, if you are as lucky (or blessed) as I have been, learning to live with each other happens seamlessly and good relationships develop. The adjustment of living with any new person can be long and difficult, and there are bound to be some rough patches as everyone involved learns to blend living space and styles. Compromise is necessary on all sides - everyone involved has to make adjustments to fit a new piece into the existing puzzle. My adjustment to living here has been as easy as it could be with so many drastic differences in lifestyle and living conditions. And the only person I have sensed any resistance from is Elene -- I don't think she likes having to share her mother's attention with me. Other than that, our puzzle pieces have joined smoothly.

Then Tea said, "I don't want to think about what our house will be like when you leave." I just smiled. I didn't know what to say -- and she smiled back. We'll deal with that in a few months.

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