Thursday, May 19, 2011


I feel it happening already.

Monday was a rough day. I was in a bad mood all day long, although I tried hard not to show it. It was the day following two nights spent sleeping on the train to and from Tbilisi, and upon our (Tea, Koba, Tamari and my) return to Shamgona, we were ushered into Tamari's house at 6:30 a.m. for a congratulatory suphra. I dislike suphras anytime -- the constant hounding to eat and drink -- the smell of homemade wine that is too sour to enjoy and tcha-tcha that is downright horrid -- the loud toasts that grow louder the more the men drink -- the smoking with no concern for any non-smokers at the table. And I completely dislike mornings -- put both together, and the combination is enough to put me into one foul mood.

On the way to school that morning after a quick face-wash and clothes-change post-suphra, two of my eighth-grade girls joined me on the road. I didn't want to walk with anyone -- I really wanted a few minutes to myself before starting the school-day, but I smiled and fell in alongside them anyway. One of the girls looked at me and, in a pained voice asked me, "Are you sorry [British for 'sad'] to be going back to America soon?" The sarcastic, slightly caustic laugh that escaped my lips had been growing all morning. I couldn't keep it back.
"No," I answered, rather sardonically.
"Why?" came the usual Georgian reply to any answer that doesn't jive with their thinking.
"That's my home. That's where my family and my friends are." I was trying hard to hide my exasperation. I felt like a little black rain cloud was camped out over my head, blocking the positive energy from the day's radiant sunshine. The girls must have noticed it, because they let me walk on ahead, alone.

The rest of this week, I feel like I've reverted back to stage two of culture shock -- annoyance and irritability. I am sick of being stared at. I am sick of being called a "Kargi gogo" (Good girl). I am sick of eating bread and cheese at every meal that have caused me to gain a good twenty pounds. I am sick of feeling like nothing is ever really clean. I am sick of people who don't know any more than my name telling me that they love me.

I keep wondering if I sould start packing for home. But I know that wouldn't help a bit. It would probably send me into a faster, tighter negative spiral. Not yet knowing when I will be leaving is driving me crazy.

As a result of these tough days, I have felt myself slowly detaching from the connections that I have made here (that is, with everyone except Tea). Inwardly, I have taken a step or two back from the rest of the village and my life here. There is a little more distance (figuratively) between me and the other teachers at school. I have pulled back from the culture that I had immersed myself into. I am not trying to assimilate into any extra avenues of Georgian life. I'm still doing my job. I'm still working with my co-teachers to prepare them for their certification exams. I still hang out with Tea and have actually started asserting myself in the kitchen even more -- doing the dishes, cleaning up, shooing out the cats and chickens, sweeping -- but it is with a different feeling. I don't know how else to explain it but to say that it feels like I am projecting my home-to-come onto my present placement.

Detachment is a strange feeling. Proximity is still there, but connectedness is not. I know that the feeling will only get stronger before I leave -- limbo -- floating -- drifting -- in-between -- disengaged -- isolated -- withdrawn.

Leaving won't be easy.

1 comment:

  1. thinking of you through this time of transition dear stephanie:) lots of love your way. xo