Sometimes I can't believe that I've been here for six months already. It is nice to feel comfortable in a place that was so incredibly foreign to me not so long ago.
I thought about this while riding into Tbilisi this evening. The first day I arrived here in Georgia back in November, I had no idea where I was or what I was looking at. But today, the sense of familiarity gave me pause as I looked around at this city that I now know relatively well. Even though I don't live in the city, I have been here enough to know what is where (mostly) and how to get around.
Today, when my marshutka arrived at the main bus station (there are three or four in the city), I shouldered my backpack, marched right by the bevy of taxi drivers looking for customers, and walked into the large mall to head to the metro station. I thought about the first time I arrived in the city on the bus.... I had no idea where in the city I was, where my hostel was located, or how to get there. That time I did take a taxi to my hostel. But I have since learned where the metro is in relation to the bus station, I know how to put money on my metro card, I know not to look up on the four-story, turbo-speed escalator (there is nothing that is on a level, and the steep stairway tunnels down at a crazy angle. It drives my brain bonkers to have nothing horizontal or vertical to look at), I know which train to take, and where to get off. I even understand the announcer on the metro who says, "Shemdegi sadguri, Tavesuplebis Moedani" (Next station, Freedom Square).
It's a nice feeling to know a place. A sense of belonging sits like a warm spot in my chest when I notice that I am familiar with what is around me. That warmth may be the comfort of the known.... or at least the beginnings of it.... or maybe it is the warmth of confidence in my ability to function here. Very little surprises me anymore. I don't find things odd or strange. It's nice.
But I still can't wait to go home....
By the way, I did not see my admirer at the bus station in Zugdidi.... thank God!