When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer here in Georgia, I felt something of an obligation to present a positive face. I knew people who were considering the PC, or who had been invited to Georgia, might be looking at it, and I didn’t want to discourage anyone. Also, I knew someone at the PC office was vetting my posts, because from time-to-time I got feedback from them. It was always good feedback, but I certainly was aware of their eyes on me. So I was honest, within certain parameters. Now, as just another expat living in Georgia, I can say whatever I please. However, even without my prior constraints, it’s hard to know what I should be posting here … or not. Even as transparent as I am, emotionally, I am not enamored of writing about my private feelings – especially when they are sad, or angry, or frustrated. I like to keep that stuff for my good friends and family, who know me and know that even if I’m feeling down, it’s not ever the whole of who I am.
But the problem is – I haven’t got any friends or family here. I’ve only lived in Tbilisi for 5 months, and most of my friends left in June, when our PC service ended. I have Georgian friends – some very good friends, actually – but we don’t share a common cultural understanding or background. All of my admittedly very small family is in the U.S. Most of the time, this isn’t a problem. I’m in good touch with my family, and I’ve met a lot of nice people here. I’m hopeful that some of them will develop into friends eventually. But when it comes to a quintessentially American holiday like Thanksgiving … it’s a little hard.
In 2014 and 2015, I was living in Gori and just as far away from home as I am now. But with my fellow PCVs, we threw huge, festive Thanksgiving supras each year. It was fun, and I felt good, and I didn’t miss home at all. I really felt I was just where I wanted to be.
So … 2016. Yeah, a little different. A promised invitation never came, and I found myself alone, and not happy about it. I guess the person who promised the invitation forgot, or went somewhere else … but I gotta admit, a message, at least, would have been nice. Facebook was not much help – most of the posts showed happy families celebrating together. I even saw a number of photos of Thanksgiving celebrations here in Georgia. Peace Corps had a huge Thanksgiving dinner. I understand that it’s only for current volunteers, but, still …
Well, you see the direction this is going. So I’ll stop now, and just say, sometimes being so far away can be tough. This is the price you pay, I guess. Next year, maybe I’ll make my own Thanksgiving and invite other strays such as myself! Sadly I don’t have an oven, so it might require some serious improvisation – but I’ll worry about that later. In the meantime, I am going to a belated Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday with some people I know, not friends, but nice people. It’s at a restaurant I’ve heard is quite good. I have to pay 50 lari to cover the cost, which is entirely reasonable, but somehow kinda kills the feeling a little bit. Maybe I’m just being cranky. The election is still weighing heavily on me. Tomorrow night I’m meeting some people to talk about we, as American expats, can do here in Georgia to have some impact on the situation. I have some ideas. We’ll see what happens.
For now – happy Thanksgiving to all of you back in America, and hold those friends and family close, especially right now.
Update: On Sunday, as planned, I went to a very nice dinner at Rosemary, a new restaurant here in Tbilisi run by an American guy who combines traditional Georgian cooking with down-South culinary techniques and recipes from “the other Georgia” – the one that has Atlanta located in it. We got a very nice dinner indeed, with all the traditional fixins’, and a good time was had by all.