The holidays (and a free ticket from TLG) brought me back to America for a bit. I’m sitting in a warm house, eating all kinds of food, and enjoying everyday things I’ve come to see as luxuries. At the same time, I find myself missing so many things about life in my new home.
When describing Georgia to people here in the US, seldom am I able to communicate why I love living there. Events I perceive as exciting seem to terrify others, and the inconveniences I enjoy confuse many of my fellow Americans. That’s not to say I am terribly excited for unreliable water and electricity when I fly back in a week, but there are certain aspects of the first world I’m excited to leave behind.
I thought I’d make a list of things I miss, to clarify my feelings on living in a country that isn’t often thought of as an ideal destination.
More than anything, I miss the unpredictability. Little surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant, tend to liven things up. While this may be more characteristic of living in an unfamiliar culture and country, I find myself growing a bit lazy knowing what to expect in America .
As difficult as it often is, getting information in Georgia is always an adventure. Having to ask around always leads to interesting interactions with locals, and usually to some bizarre advice or insight. Of course, the lack of regular schedules or any written guides is at times a bit concerning, finding a way through these problems often prove far more rewarding than getting somewhere on time.
I’m enjoying easy access to world cuisines in the USA, but I miss some of the Georgian staples. I caved and bought some Borjomi (the world’s best mineral water) at a Russian market a few days ago, and have been finding ways to incorporate tkemali (sour plum sauce) into my American routine. I can hardly wait to taste khatchapuri again…
I think my most complex feelings are those having to do with convenience, one of the most characteristic traits of American life. Things here are easier than elsewhere, in many ways. It’s possible to buy anything at any time, go anywhere you wish, and do pretty much whatever you want. However, these conveniences depend on a system that doesn’t include everyone.
Without the ability to drive, my options are seriously limited in the states, whereas in Georgia, I can easily jump on a bus to the next town. I may not be able to buy a chocolate bar at midnight, but the shopkeepers get to spend time with their families. The lack of public restrooms teaches me to plan ahead. Living among folks who speak an entirely different language, I’m learning to appreciate introspection and quiet observation even more than I did before.
Any understanding of convenience is so individual, dependent heavily on our own abilities, preferences, and priorities. For travelers, it’s often difficult to see this; we simply miss the comforts of home. But when living in another culture, getting to know the system of values that support a foreign status quo, hopefully we catch another perspective on convenience, one that provides for a view of the world different from our own.
In any case, I think the things I miss about Georgia prove only my American-ness (and perhaps my youth), as most anyone from less-organized countries might struggle to see the charm in the chaos. If anyone who has been to Georgia pretends not to miss the food, though, surely they must be joking.