Where in the World
august 23, 2018
No one knows where I live. No one knows where Georgia is. The country. Not the state. When I told the folks back home I was moving to Georgia they began planning a homecoming thinking I was returning to America. While I can point to Georgia on a map, even I’m not sure if I’m in Europe or Asia or the Middle East. The Georgians like to say it’s Europe, but others argue for the latter options. Regardless in all this unfamiliarity, I’ve found the most novel sense of home.
The “forgotten country” of Georgia is a lost gem. Put in some elbow grease to get here, rub the dirt off, and you’ve got yourself something extraordinary and rare. With Russia to the north, the Black Sea to the west, and Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan to the south, Georgia may be off the the normal tourist track, but only for now. She's stepping in to the limelight.
I first read about this not-so-familiar country in Afar magazine around the time I began considering moving abroad 1.5 years ago. It has just about everything I was looking for at the time plus a little extra character. Georgia is stunning and off the beaten track. It is safe and very affordable. It also happens to be the Cradle of Wine - I’m not going to pretend that wasn’t THE selling point.
Yet, at the time, flights from Chicago were very long (nearly 20 hours with connections), and also a bit expensive compared to other options. So I ended up deciding on Lisbon. A lovely, sunny place which also has fantastic wine, and more importantly a much more manageable travel schedule for Stewart (the dog) and I. At this point, I had never flown internationally with Stewbean, so minimizing the length of travel was key. Funny enough, that trip to Lisbon ended up being A LOT longer and more stressful than anticipated. But that is another story (and a very funny one, so click here to read more).
While it took a while to get here, I am so relieved to have postponed the trip for a year, because I wouldn’t have appreciated Tbilisi a year ago in the way I do now. If I hadn’t of been to Lisbon first during high-summer, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the ease of moving around an underrated city, such has Tbilisi which hosts a fraction of the tourists. If I hadn’t of spent three months in Romania, I wouldn’t have appreciated the complex history of the region, woven with the trauma of Soviet Control. If I hadn’t then moved on to Athens for three months, I wouldn’t have appreciated the dual representation of very rich and ancient history alongside such beautiful modern art and amenities. If I hadn’t spent 3 months in Cape Town I wouldn’t have been as comfortable traveling in a place that was so unfamiliar and foreign, especially from the perspective of the small town where I grew up. I may not have been so willing to let this fascinating country take me by surprise when there were dozens of more obvious options to choose from. If I hadn’t just spent three months in Bordeaux, arguably the most famous wine destination in the world, I wouldn’t have appreciated that the age old art of viticulture started right here, as Georgia is the Cradle of Wine.
On top of those more esoteric factors, this is the first time my “home base” has really felt homey for me. Since I left to pursue this nomadic life, I’ve had a string of unfortunate living circumstances, beginning with an enfant roommate in Lisbon, then terribly dirty ones in Romania. When I had my own place in Athens, the wifi and hot water never worked, which was then followed by Cape Town where my Airbnb host spun a web of lies and tried to get me arrested. Finally in Bordeaux, I made the unfortunate mistake of moving in with someone I shouldn’t have, which was very toxic and uncomfortable.Yet, all of these problems kept pushing me on to the next destination.
And here I am, in the coziest studio apartment in the chicest neighborhood of Tbilisi, where lucky dog Stewart has not one, but two outdoor spaces to choose from when indulging in his favorite afternoon activity: sunbathing. I am again in a city where I don’t know a soul, but I am spreading my wings like I always do. And somehow, I’ve never felt more prepared or more in control. It took a lot of discomfort to get here: too many questionable decisions, too much time worrying about what others thought of my nontraditional life choices, too many fucks given about things out of my control, and too little time prioritizing myself. But each day of this past year has brought me closer to where I am now. I am better. I stand taller. I am more creative and self-loving. I am more myself. Which is a place where I am inspired by the distance I still have to go to be who I want to be, instead of terrified by it.
I may not even know where I am, but I have faith that I am precisely where I’m meant to be. And I’m willing to bet you are too. Even if it’s scary. Even if you feel alone. Even if you feel completely out of place. It is those feelings pushing you to the next big thing. The next big you.