So I’m sitting in the bedroom of what I consider to be my second (or third or fourth) adoptive family, Kate Willette and Bruce Hanson (parents of the inimitable Heather Hanson) and consuming what feels like the entire internet. I got here, to Bellevue, about four days ago, and I’m still readjusting to American culture. For instance: English speakers are probably addressing each other, and not me!
But now you’re all wonderfing what fimportant fings I’ve learned whilst away in Georgia. I know you are. Here they are. I have three.
1. Idleness. There are hours and hours in each day where Georgians do absolutely nothing. Sure, the TV’s on and we’re blasting Rihanna, but no activity occurs. I can distinctly remember several times where I came out of my roost to find out what was going on. Iamze would be sleeping with her fist in the air (?) and Jemal would be on the couch. Temo was slouching in a windowsill. “What are you doing?” “Nothing,” he would say, as if surprised. Why should I be doing something at all?
2. Radical hospitality. Uncountable times, a group of Georgians would buy me and me friends drinks/khinkali after knowing us for no more than a few minutes. Can you imagine walking into a restaurant and having the neighboring table pick up your tab? It’s unreal. I was invited to supras, houses, weddings, parties, all because I happened to be around. There are no qualifications on friendship, not even whether you like this person. (Of course, they liked me, because I’m so goddamn charming. But they’d invite an elephant seal if that elephant seal happened to be eating khinkali at the neighboring table.) Who does that? Humbling.
3. The kids in my village like fast cars, nice clothes, and music from America. Why? Because they are symbols of wealth. They don’t have a hell of a lot of money, so they imagine that’s what they’d spend it on, if there was a bunch of it to waste. It’s a projection out of poverty, dig? Previously I’d looked down on this because it seemed a valuation of surface-level things, you know, having so much money that ladiez jump into your Mercedez by the handful, just for the chance to touch your gold chains or beautiful, beautiful leisure suit.
But why the hell do we think what’s cool is cool? Handmade bags, a shitload of passport stamps, knowing about bands before anyone else, retro-vinyl-disco-chic? Maybe because we already have money, and therefore to distinguish ourselves, value individual preference.
This isn’t a judgment on either one of our senses of cool. I’d more like to point out that our sense of cool stems from a comfortable material reality.
And, for the record, we weren’t really poor. My host family owned a shitload of land on the other side of the river where Jemal grew excess corn to sell at the bazaar, and we also had like 20 cows, and chickens, and a hazlenut orchard, and two cherry trees, and a persimmon tree, and a bunch of tqemali trees, and grapes out the ass. It wasn’t an industrialized wealth, though. My family still had to work the land themselves to be awash in delicious food. Cool meant leisure without labor.
Those three things spring to my mind if you want the “Georgian Living” guide, on sale at Prima’s Strategy Guides next month with the new WoW expansion, “Encrusted Caucasus.”