Today the sun has come out for the second time in two weeks, just in time for Mother’s Day. Georgians celebrate this day on the 3rd of March, and fortunately for those of us here, it’s a national holiday. As such, I am at home today watching Georgian television and spending time with my host family and their cousins. This is what my spare time (which I have much of) consists of these days. It’s quite a different life. For the past three and a half years, I had been on overdrive. Two months ago, I was complaining about having no time to breath thanks to school and the other things I liked to occupy myself with. Sleep was a luxury and free time was like gold. If this had been true, then I would be pretty rich right now.
My days are pretty short here. This is mostly because school days are pretty short (compared to the US). The maximum we can work as teachers here is 30 hours a week, and I personally don’t quite reach that number. My day seemingly ends when I come home around 2 everyday. I didn’t think it was possible, but I have a little too much free time. Am I complaining? Maybe I was at first, but there’s nothing wrong with sleeping a full eight hours. No, I’m quite happy with this pace of life (for now). I just don’t know how to make use of it.
I’m lucky that I’m in the city, surrounded by cafes and English speaking friends short distances away. My friends in the villages have quite a different experience, living in remote locations surrounded only by Georgians . Having spent a few weekends in a village myself, I can say it’s pretty crucial to have a good appetite and strong appreciation for the people around you. I’m fortunate that I’m in the city and have much more options at my disposal. I spent all of last week in internet cafes drinking tea and eating baklava with friends. I quickly discovered, however, that this way of life is not quite sustainable, since our salaries are far too limited to support these habits.
So, here I am again, at home passing time with family and friends—the Georgian way. I’ve noticed that Georgians don’t really spend much time outside, going to movies, restaurants, or even cafes. The home is the heart of this social contact and family and friends are the essence of passing the time–not television or computers. One of the hardest things to learn is being ok with just being—the simplicity of sitting and enjoying the company around you without these senseless distractions. Try it: It’s harder than it seems. The only problem (for me) with such gatherings is the total absence of English… But, not to worry. I have books. And the weekend. Bakuriani awaits me this time around, a popular ski town about two hours away. Wish me luck and pray I don’t break a leg!