I had to think for a bit when coming up with a title for this one. Most of the time the witticisms and wordplay just comes to me. This time however, I struggled for a minute or so. A lot happened this past weekend, and it was almost entirely witty, but the past week has felt far to special for me to dash off some punny line about zoos or heel-clicking or whatever. No. For me, at least, this was a special weekend that deserves a more serious title.
“Rekindled” means a lot of things to me right now. Coming back to Georgia this semester has been more difficult than I anticipated. Part of it is just getting back into the swing of things–you know, living with the family, teaching again, being away from home (though that’s really my default setting these days), and readjusting to many of the things we’d grown to take for granted. Obviously these take time. More importantly though was the impact that everyone’s own private struggle with these things had on the group. When one person is struggling, that’s all well and good, but when a dozen people are separately struggling with similar yet different issues, it just complicates matters.
What’s more, many of my close friends have left for good. I don’t know when I’ll see them again. I certainly hope to see them again, I just don’t know when. There’s always little reminders of their absences in day-to-day life. I had Cristen’s galoshes under my desk. Facebook tells me that Stepa has just arrived in Korea again. Nino and I talk about how Ian would totally get his head cut off by a helicopter while we short people would be just fine. Each one of these stimuli is a like a mild jab of “Oh right…they’re not here anymore.”
What does all this mean? It means that things have been rougher this semester than last. It means that we’ve all be dealing with multiple demons constantly, while being bombarded with work, Georgia, and Georgians. It means that in a lot of ways we’re not having the fun we used to. There are always excuses, too. “I’m too tired,” “I have school,” “I don’t have money.” Basically it means that things have largely changed for the worse.
Marissa and Joanne, two of my absolutely dearest friends (and not just here in Georgia, girls! Take that to heart!), had a particularly rough return to Georgia. I won’t go into details as I don’t think that this blog is an appropriate place to be airing dirty laundry, especially laundry that isn’t mine! But let’s just say that neither of them was happy like they used to be. This, in turn, made me less happy and our friendships suffered. No one wants to see their friends suffer and so the entire mood of January and February was largely “Blah.”
The first and most important meaning of “Rekindled” is that this weekend absolutely rekindled everyone’s passion for Georgia, friends, and adventure. I just had a nice long chat with Nino, our close friend and mentor, and she said to me, “Marissa and Joanne seemed so happy this weekend. I was worried about them, but I am not anymore.” I used to be worried about them as well, but you know what, girls? I’m not worried anymore. And I say that with a big smile!
Secondly, I admit that I haven’t been writing as much as I used to. I simply haven’t wanted to. As I mentioned above, the past month and a half has been just more challenging and less pleasant than, say, November and December. It sapped my motivation to share stories. It drained my writing energy to the point where I just didn’t feel like talking to the world about my experiences. The speechlessly awesome weekend that just ended has rekindled my excitement for writing. I finally feel like I have stories worth telling again. I’m not worried about my friends; I’m not worried about myself; I’m not worried.
Those of you who know me personally know that I’m not a worrier. I do worry though. Rarely about myself, I worry about others’ well-being. Due to the rekindling of excitement, happiness, and internal fires of my closest friends, I don’t have to be worried anymore! I feel great! What’s more, a very pretty girl just walked past the window! Took me out of my writing mode for a second there….
So, with this renewed energy, this rekindled spirit, I plan on putting my words to good use once again. Welcome back, shit’s just about to get real!
Thirdly, and least importantly, “Rekindled” also refers to this popular sequel. I don’t have one myself, but Yev does. Or maybe he has the off-brand version (or, as a Georgian might say, “The Made-In-China Version”). I won’t spoil what I’m talking about, but rather I’ll force you all to click the link! See, even at my most melodramatic (See: The first 750 words of this post) I never lose my sense of humor (Note: the use of the word “humor” here is admittedly questionable at best).
What actually happened this weekend? The short answer is “Everything.” The shorter answer is “Rekindled.” If you’re satisfied with that, then by all means, come back in like four posts for my talk about Star Wars! For the rest of you, details follow!
Marissa and Joanne arrived in Tbilisi on Thursday, Georgian Mothers’ Day and, coincidentally (Unless Nana had some ridiculously specific foresight), my mom’s birthday! (Love you, Mom!) Immediately, I picked them up and took them over to McDonald’s. It was a much-needed break for them from village food. As a city slicker, and one with bad habits at that, I find myself there more often than I’ll admit. Their new regional menu item is “Veggie nuggets” which look like some sort of breaded riceball with bits of corn, carrot, and green in it. We stuck to the burgers.
After giving them a Roli-Poli preview I headed off to work. Yada, yada, yada, we met up again at Yev’s. On my way there I stopped to pick up five flowers. Since I’ve got three moms, that part was obvious. I figured I’d give the extra two to Marissa and Joanne. It was a good idea, methinks! We parted ways again, for bedtime, and met up once more on Friday morning at Freedom Square, a list of errands in hand.
With breakfast cakes in our bellies and fresh cash in our pockets (though not for long), we spent the morning talking, walking arm-in-arm, and enjoying the phenomenal weather that Tbilisi had that day. Marissa always tells me that “Your life is shit when I’m not around. I bring the sunshine!” This weekend that was true for not only my life, but for the weather all weekend long!
We wanted to meander through the awesome souvenir market, so I led us down that-a-ways towards the river. We stopped by an intimidating statue in the park so I could phone Koba. (Oh yeah! We’d already found an external hard drive for Joanne! Productivity already!) Joanne and Marissa had seen a bunch of caged animals and a Circus building near a traffic circle, so we wanted to go to the circus. That plan was eventually foiled, but it worked out fantastically anyway.
While I was on the phone, the girls practiced their jumping heel clicks. It was a glorious moment for a bit of silliness in the park–captured on camera!
I am pretty good at the whole heel click thing, but it never got caught on camera. Except for once back in my more stylish, dapper days:
Then we set the camera at the foot of the statue and tried to take a self-timed photo of all of us jumping! It didn’t work out so well, but we did get a nice one that I call “The Evolution of a Jump”:
Some cops started coming around and checking on what we were doing. We decided it was time to tone things down. We weren’t being too boisterous or anything, but we stopped jumping. Instead, we switched to kung fu fighting!
With the subtle encouragement of the park police, we decided to move along to the super-fun souvenir market!! We’d been there last semester a few times and took the opportunity to just wander about admiring the things for sale. I really like that place!
We recrossed the river and began walking uptown towards the Philharmonia. We stopped in at Prospero’s to buy a guide to Turkey and look for some textbooks or some such that Joanne needed for her co-teacher. We hit up a Populi for some sodas and ice cream and sat sunning ourselves on the steps of the Tbilisi Concert Hall. Our plan was to head down to the traffic circle that connects Vake with Saburtelo where the mysterious and elusive Circus was supposed to be near. As we wandered down the hill, the Circus building came into sight.
I had been on the phone with Koba earlier, who insisted that the zoo was closed. “Raughley, you surprise me! Sadly the zoo is closed and our children will not have an opportunity to see clowns until next year, at least.” Fair enough, Koba. I called Angela while we sat and ate popcorn, donuts, and ice cream (Love it!) and she told me that the Circus Owner was murdered/died and so the Circus went defunct in the succession crisis. Hopefully it’ll open before we leave, but who can say?
At any rate, I’ll save the story of the zoo for a later post and skip ahead to dinner time!
Following up on some ministry advice, we went to a really nice restaurant for Khinkali. I’d been there before, when Tina won her prize! We ordered some food and beer, eagerly, and waited for Angela to arrive!
We dug right in to our food while we waited for Angela. She was on her way and had even promised us that the KinoHouse would be showing Burlesque at 7 pm. The plan was to head over there and watch the movie before going out for maybe one or two drinks afterwards. The plan was derailed before it even got out of the station. After a beer and a half, Marissa insisted that “I wanna wash shome sherr!” We weren’t super drunk, by any means, but it was hitting us faster than we anticipated. “Washing shome sher” (Watching some Cher) quickly became one of the weekend’s catch phrases!
We cabbed it over to the theater and went to buy some drinks and movie snacks. I had a candy bar in my pocket from earlier in the day, which led to an issue as we left the store. I got accused of shoplifting and upon my shocked reaction the clerk ran to check the inventory of candy bars (or something) and came back, waving me out the door.
For whatever reason, Marissa decided at this point that she wanted a piggy back ride (I suspect it’s for the same reason she wanted to “wash shome sherr!”). Though we failed to see Burlesque (because we’d been duped!!), we did manage to pull off the exceedingly difficult maneuver of me tying Marissa’s shoes while she rode on my back. Try it sometime at home, folks. It’s a lot harder than it looks!
The rest of the night was spent in a series of restaurants and a bar dancing, eating, and drinking the night away! It was one of the more successful nights out on the town and definitely one of the best days in Georgia. Full stop.
Consider us Rekindled!