It’s strange and very tragic how we are affected much more by our memories of something than by the experience itself, and how these experiences only grow richer with absence. That’s what happened this weekend with Halloween. In that case, I can hardly wait for the Christmas emotional roller coaster. Not.
Georgia doesn’t celebrate Halloween. I polled the teenagers and the general consensus was something like: ‘Yeah, I heard about that. On TV.’ Oh how sad. Poor deprived Georgians, and poor me for missing something I previously thought so trivial. I can do without a big party; there are plenty of parties here to last a lifetime. But what I can’t do without is dumping trash bag after trash bag of candy on the living room floor, rolling amongst wrappers in pursuit of the perfect junk food angel. And then waiting patiently for my mom to examine each piece for razors, crack cocaine, etc. (I did grow up in Dallas suburbs after all.) Plus I have always had a soft spot for popcorn balls and candy apples. Sigh … Oh well, some day my children will know the bliss I once had.
Thankfully the day wasn’t a total loss. Sheila and I were determined to scrounge up some sweets. We braved some gnarly gusts of wind and headed to the nearest supermarket. She splurged on some Pringles (actually really inflated here), and I took forever picking out German truffles. I hadn’t eaten a truffle in months, and those turned out to be the best damn chocolates I’ve ever eaten.
While I’m reminded of food, I have to share something – even though it might sound absurd at first. Every so often, something so great comes along – an inanimate something – and it gives me a feeling I once had that I thought was lost forever, that I knew I could never duplicate on my own; and I become eternally indebted to this thing. The most recent addition to the list is my beloved Tbilisi ice cream shop, Luca Polare. Yes, really. All the varieties are fabulous, but it was downright magic when I tried the orange flavor. I remember, so long ago that I can’t place the year anymore, when I would hide in my tree house on a summer afternoon and eat orange after orange. These had to be the best oranges in existence, and would ripen in the sun until they couldn’t take another day of heat. They gave off their own special perfume, which I rediscovered in this ice cream to be the most heavenly balance of sweetness and acidity.
Now I get to mention Alex and Cande! For those who don’t know, Alex is the (conveniently bilingual) computer teacher at my school. He just happened to be in Tbilisi for the weekend, and just happens to own an apartment on the outskirts of the city. This man has been an invaluable liaison to me since I arrived; without him, I’d be nowhere in my relations with both the school and my host family. So, when we showed up on Friday night to his 30th birthday supra, I wanted to do something special for him. After the mounds of dishes were cleared, we gave him a proper American birthday: chocolate cake complete with candles of every color. We sang the best rendition of “Happy Birthday” possible (slurring pretty heavily after a dozen glasses of wine). He thanked us for making his day; I don’t think anyone could’ve been happier 🙂 .
Cande’s birthday on Saturday was awesome. The weather was horrible, but we finally managed to meet up in the hotel room to feast on real pizza. You have to understand Georgians think mayonnaise belongs on pizza; so when we heard about an American style pizzeria you can bet we were willing to pay twice the price of the room to get our hands on authentic mozzarella. I just hopes everyone forgives me for not going clubbing afterward – any more alcohol and my liver would’ve abandoned all hopes of functioning .
We also paid McDonald’s a visit. Yeah, it is against my non-religion and has been a no-no for years. But what the hey, I was obligated. Sorry to say the most memorable aspect of that excursion was using real toilet paper.
Back to the uplifting parts … Books! Prospero’s is a very famous bookstore among the few native English speakers, and rightly so. To me, it’s everything a bookstore should be; it evokes that feeling of a small New England town, quaint and cozy – a beacon of warmth with its inviting glow and muffin-y aroma. Katie spotted a copy of Ralph and The Motorcycle in Spanish. Of course I had to buy that (as it has also made the list of inanimate things). And of course I wasn’t going to make it out of there without a classic, so I settled on The Picture of Dorian Gray after much debate. Word to the wise: Never go book shopping with me. I am normally the most indecisive person on the planet, and even worse when I’m forced to leave behind reading material. There were also a number of really, really tempting Georgian books. Before I depart in June I’m definitely springing for some Georgian poetry and a local cookbook.
I could write for ages about Dorian Gray, but I won’t. I’ve always believed people must determine a book’s importance on their own and wouldn’t dare spoil anyone’s interpretation. So I will include this one quote: “The love that he bore for him – for it was really love – had nothing in it that was not noble and intellectual. It was not that mere physical admiration of beauty that is born in the senses, and that dies when the senses tire.”
This is the love I have been searching for, the love I think we all search for even if we don’t have a clue how to describe it. I am done with flings and casual dating. I’ve had my fill of chasing after empty lust. Don’t get me wrong; it’s both very fun and very necessary, but I’m transitioning to that next phase, whatever it’s called.
No, I’m not referring to marriage; love doesn’t have to be so black and white. People here whisper the word “husband”, and though I’m overcome with happiness for a moment, this ecstasy passes as quickly as it comes and I’m left with a sense of terror. Yes, I would love to get married. But being married? I dread something so bittersweet, and so final. It makes perfect sense if you think about it: All the great pose and poetry of the world is written about the pursuit of love, whether it be a new romance or the rekindling of an old one – not the maintenance of it. Whoever first faulted men for being afraid of commitment is a liar because I’m right there with you. Though for you older/wiser readers, don’t have pity on me quite yet; I know I’ll change my tune in five or ten years just as I have now. Ah, good ole foresight …
I have to end this on a light note. The temperate gauge on my travel alarm clock currently reads 55 degrees Farenheit, and yeah, it’s sitting on the nightstand. I never thought I could type while wearing mittens, but well, here we are.