Thoughts after 2 years an expat in Tbilisi, Georgia — Mostly sadness
In 2015 I moved to Tbilisi. I am not 100% sure what I was looking for, but I think it was a home — a place where I belonged. I was also seeking to leave my life in the USA behind me. On the first goal I have been unsuccessful. Although I like Tbilisi and the Republic of Georgia, I no longer feel at home here. I think it was naive on my part to think that I could come waltzing in and just be accepted. On the second goal I have been successful. No matter how irritated I get about things here in Georgia it only takes me a few days into a visit to the USA before I want to leave. Will I stay in Georgia? I do not know. I am no longer as happy here as I was 6 months ago. Either things here have changed or I have changed; probably both. But I know I will not return to the USA. America has become a foreign country to me; more foreign than those nations I have visited over the last 2 years; Georgia, Hungary, or Bulgaria. Maybe I will never find a home. If so I must learn to appreciate the things I have. Which brings me to the issue of Georgia and me.
I read this quote in a book about the Caucasus, and it struck me as very near to the truth:
“If I were a symbolist, I should portray Georgia as a racehorse — palpitating, furious, rushing forward blindly, it knows not where; rearing at the least check, not having yet learnt what is required of it, or what it can do; falling at the first slackening of the reins into fantastic, prancing gait; a creature made for parade, and for the pleasure of the eyes rather than utility… The most deadly weakness of [Georgians’] nature is their faculty of intoxicating themselves with words, their infantile persuasion that in delivering speeches and making gestures they are actively accomplishing something and producing results.” Odette Keun, 1924
I must admit that when I read this quote it struck a chord of resonance in my heart and in my mind. Georgians can be so charming and appealing with their extravagant behavior, but they can also be pig headed and irrational. Over the past 6 months Georgia has transformed from a country that welcomed foreigners to a ridiculous and often annoying extent into a country that despises foreigners and treats them like garbage. I have never experienced such a broad based social change in sentiment about…