Today I Skyped with Tskalsminda Georgia. They rang from Nona magazia (shop) on the corner down the mountain road on the highway. I could smell the fish, feel the damp and hear the warm clang of bells as the cows meandered home. All gazed into the computer, brown eyes light to in the afternoon sun in the wee village near the Black Sea.
All was the same, there in the place where time is measured by birth, death and seasons. Achievements are not the rubric, possessions not the bar. Alms once paid in full to the priest assure their entree into heaven. Peace reigned. It was the complacency of people whose country is so small that they are only pawns or hosts on the world stage.
A new government with affiliations with Putin has recently been voted into power. They refer to themselves as the dream team. But the capital is far away from the agrarian world of Tskaltsminda.
I looked at Nona and Nana and Tatia. All were perched on the little stools at the shops where less than a year ago I had sat eating sunflower seeds roasted on the propane burner that was used for all cooking.
All seemed the same, Nana dreams of a house with her husband, with a shower. She dreams of a place of her own. She had dreamed this dream for a time now. Yet still she trudges across muddy tracks to her babbias house where her grandmothers wood burning stove is the source of food, heat and water, and the out door Georgian toilet is a hole in the ground across a frozen field.
Nona has given a facelift to her shop. The tongues of the fishmongers still wag about her box blonde hair and her Beyonce build. Nona has more than most. But she dreams too. She dreams of a red dress, with such sway that she will be swept up in love that will take her away from winters drudge of a shop on the highway.
I once dreamed of living on a farm somewhere in the long ago of life. I must have dreamed myself into this village. I was in areal time version of Lerner and Lowe Brigadoon. It was a time warp, a land of many kisses and much illusion..
The sun had not even announced her presence here in Michigan when I chatted through the cyber window to my far away loves, in that far away land.
I just wanted to follow the dark head east and go home, home again to that land.
I was cold there. I was hungry there. I was very isolated. I was in some place that only years in a temple, of fasting and penitence can surrender a soul to such supplication.
My life here is all shadow boxing, with the world and with my own demons.
In that land I lost my bravado and got softly grown to a new form.
Now it is near a year that I have been back . By most standards I have been dormant. No great travel, no great love, no new notch on life’s achievement rubric. I have been spared any great drama. All quiet on this western front.
Today I miss them and my village so much so that a waft of that village fills my senses. I smell the sea and the snow on the mountain and the smell of green wood as it burns to mask cold with the pop of the fire.
We live our lives, from event to event. We look for meaning, purpose.
I can seize onto the most mundane chores to give me a sense of intention. It leaves me undernourished.
The soundtrack of Georgia lingers in me. I think of all my writing trying to capture and catalogue that life.
Now it is a year later.
I am quieter somehow.
What is the tattoo that Georgia left on my soul?
I do not ask this question.
I do not want to feel this deep stir that says I am far away from home.
All was stripped there.
Everything that was life’s ordinariness went randomly missing. Water, heat, language, food, even the season was nothing like what I had lived before.
The constants the moon, the sun and the stars hid behind mountains and or the bey of wood dogs that left me housebound.
I would sit in the cacophony of the house, the family noise, the village boys, the constant clamor of Georgian TV and I would sit close to the stove, fingering through warn pages of Willa Cather novels, or just watch as toothless babias would chat about the citizens of the village, or their spouse.
I was alone. But aloneness in that land made sense; it was not laden with expectations.
Now here, it is a cold month. My heat spills out all toasty, soup cooks on the stove, media is at my fingertips, my children’s voices are a tap away on a bells and whistle iPhone.
I am not happier. I am not more settled.
But what has she given me this blessed Mother Georgia?
I just want to live how I did there. I want to play with the village children, and take long weekend walk abouts and climb mountains to monasteries, and think how from the beginning of time we loved God. I want to sit in a chill and warm myself with Turkish coffee and not be concerned with the next moment.
The theme, common theme we all spoke of there was the randomness of life there.
Life is not random here. I am far from the moments where we just live the yeses.
I am script writing again, peeling scabs off bruises, and shadowboxing with old demons.
Oh beloved Mother Georgia. You bequeathed me this gift whose name I do not yet know. I intuit it; it leaves an aura on my vision.
When all was done, when the food went, went the light went, when there really was only one candle, when my beloved house child ruptured love with his violations of trust, the smell of the incense hurled itself up my nostril and Mary icons piercing brown eyes burned to me I was living the beginning.
The beginning of life before we could access so much noise.
I had to believe in the mystery and again and again it was reveled to me.
Some days I think I dreamed the place. It was so surreally real that my knowing of it was from some place in me that is barely tangible.
When I go home there in a mind movie I travel up to the cloister that sits on the mountaintop above Batumi, in the clouds with the Black Sea shimmering in the distance and I am a holy sister, who lives only to love God. I see myself all garbed in a habit, walking about hearing the prayer wails rise to heaven from the valley below. I am gods stewardess spurring them upward with my own prayer so that they might reach is ears.
And that is all I know …
And when I think of Georgia and how it left me…it leaves me in the bittersweet of a thwarted love affair. Yet though cast aside knows in the end her soul mate will return. One day…
I am not really changed, but just more myself. I do not push so hard against the oppression of silence, the dance of loved ones or my own nature. So Gamajos to all man, all good.