The words of Henry David Thourea have been rattling around in my head the last few days. As I watch the calendar pages fly and the time to leave draw nearer and ever nearer. He said, “… I wanted to live deep and suck the marrow out of life, and not when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
I would like to replace the word ‘die’ with the word ‘leave’ and make this about my time in Georgia. I think everyone is riding the sentimental train right now. Thinking of things as lasts. The last time I will ever travel to Kakheti, the last time I will see these friends who live in Ajara, the last khachapuri I will eat. Too many lasts.
On the 30th of November, I had to say my first goodbye. I had made friends with an 18 year old Spanish guy who was doing an internship with a company in Georgia. We had only met a month ago, but we had spent a lot of time socializing, and I, enjoying the feeling of having a little brother. He will be returning in January to take on another job, but I will no longer be here and I hated to say goodbye.
I am sure everyone has these stories, people they have met here in Georgia that they wish they didn’t have to say goodbye to so soon. He said something to me which was the inspiration for this post. He said “I wish I could be here this weekend, things seem to have gotten more and more festive with every weekend that passes.” I thought about this and realised it was a very true statement. It’s as if those of us who are leaving, feel like we have to wring every last ounce of experience and fun and laughter out of our remaining time here.
I got to experience a Traditional Thanksgiving and a South African braai, watch an international rugby match, and make some new friends all in one weekend. By Sunday, I was exhausted and could not keep my eyes open. Sucking the marrow out of life can take its toll on sleep patterns.
Perhaps the whirlwind of fun I am having in my last weeks here will make it even more difficult to leave but perhaps that’s a good thing. Imagine if we left Georgia and we didn’t miss our friends there. We didn’t miss school and the beautiful places we had been. Imagine if we were glad to be leaving, that we had no memories we wished to cherish from our time together in this place.
I couldn’t write all this without mentioning the children we came into contact with, the children whose lives we may have changed with the smallest little thing. I look at some of my kids and I imagine them grown and successful, speaking English in their careers and imagine them sparing a wee moments thought for that eccentric South African who used to make crazy noises in class so we remembered to use articles, and smiling. I am sad we never get to experience the full impact of what our short time here meant to the little scallywags we got to know so well.
Of course we are glad to be going home, seeing friends and family we haven’t seen in a while, being with those we love at Christmas time, but there is still a small part of you left. A part of you that will always belong to Georgia. If I was an idealistic youth I would imagine myself returning here in a couple of years and maybe bringing my kids to see where mummy worked once, and it would all be the same. But, I am not and I know that if I ever come back, it will be like returning to somewhere I may have once been in a dream. Everything will keep changing and our memories will be suspended in time. Left behind, to gather dust, buried under the new buildings that go up and change the faces of the towns and cities we loved so well.
I am reminded of a woman I met in the summer. She was walking down the street I live on, and heard me speaking English and stopped to speak to me. Turned out she had lived on my street when she was a young girl. Her family had moved to the USA when she was in her 20s and now she had returned for the first time with her granddaughter, they had been looking for the house she had lived in. With a tear in her eye (and her granddaughter looking quite uncomfortable) she told me it was gone and that she didn’t even recognise the piece of road on which it had stood.
Cherish these last moments you have here together with your friends, even those of you who are staying on for another semester; its a different place when those TLG friends you saw every weekend are gone. Suck the marrow out of your remaining time in Georgia and live with no regrets.
Here end the ramblings of a sentimental fool.