So, the time of leaving has commenced. I’ve been dreading this time for months. Not only are the G12s (the PCV group ahead of mine) leaving now, but so are most of my ex-pat friends in Kutaisi. The end of May marked the beginning of the mass exodus when I said goodbye to my friend Chase. Shortly after, Shawn followed. Last week, began with Joe (who will be back in September thankfully) and then continued with the first waves of G12s leaving. I’ve made a lot of good friends in the G12 group. They are some great people and I’m really going to miss their presence here in Georgia. They brought a special brand of crazy that I happen to love. The hardest person to say good bye to was John, who left two days ago, and I am still in a bit of an exhausted stupor. Georgia won’t be the same without his EXTRA special brand of crazy. He’s personally responsible for most of the best times I’ve had here and he’s been my best friend on top of it. The coming weeks include many more goodbyes to more PCVs and some of my closest friends in Kutaisi. It marks the end of an era in my Peace Corps service.
Life in Georgia is about to change drastically for me. Early last fall, I was struggling here. I wasn’t at all sure I wanted to stay. But in October, things began to change. Ann and I started to make friends in Kutaisi. I suddenly had a full life here. Before I knew it, I actually felt a little overwhelmed by my social life. I’ve made the kind of friendships that I believe are only made while living abroad. I’ve met people from all over the world and we’ve bonded over our shared foreignness. And had a lot of fun together. I know that in the coming year, I will make new friends who find themselves in Kutaisi for three months, a year, or longer. But, at the moment, I’m not at all sure I’ll be as open to it. I feel as if I have said too many good byes lately. And I’m not sure I want to set myself up for even more of them. I’m sure this feeling will pass but it is very real at the moment. We will be getting two new PCVs in Kutaisi in mid-July. They are a young married couple, Whitney and Charlie. I haven’t met them yet (as I haven’t met many of the new PC trainees). But I will at least meet Charlie on July 2nd when I am at the PST training site for a panel discussion. No matter what happens with the new Kutaisi PCVS, I already have Ann. I have the feeling we’ll be ships passing in the night this summer as she is just as busy as me. But I’m really lucky to have her and couldn’t ask for a better site mate. And I’m so glad that she’s not leaving until I do, because I just don’t think I could handle that.
I guess it is a good thing that my summer is already completely booked. I have not a single weekend free until the end of August. No exaggeration. I’ll not have much time to dwell on the massive holes certain people have left in my life. For July 4th, I’ll be at the beach in Kobuleti with a group of PCVs celebrating the American Independence day. The next weekend, my friend Marjory who I met in Rochester and is now serving in PC Moldova will arrive for a week long visit. I’m looking forward to showing her around Georgia. We’ll spend a few days around Kutaisi and then head to Khazbegi for some hiking and the obligatory church site-seeing. Then maybe we’ll head to Gori to visit the Stalin museum and then spend her last day here in Tbilisi where we’ll attend the swearing in ceremony for the new volunteers. The following weekend I will head out of Kutaisi again on a trip that will have me away from home (and the office) for nearly a month! First, I have a wedding in Tbilisi, followed by a Peace Corps conference which leads right in to GLOW camp. For logistical reasons, we are doing both one week GLOW camps back to back. So, I will be at our GLOW camp site from August 2-20. Crazy! The plus side, it may be the first month in a while that I haven’t been completely broke by the middle of the month. So, after GLOW, I will head back home to Kutaisi after having been gone since July 26th. But because rest is for weak, I’ll head out again after about a week and a half on a trip to Tusheti, a region I’ve been wanting to visit in Georgia since I arrived. So, that’s my entire summer. It feels like it is already over in a way.
When I think about my remaining time in Georgia, it feels as if it is going to be over in a flash. Watching all of the G12s leave has been tough. Not only saying good bye to them, but also witnessing how hard it is for them to say good bye to their Georgian friends and families and their fellow PCVs. Also, hearing about their plans or lack of plans has already started me worrying about what’s next for me. Knowing that in pretty much exactly one year, I’ll be saying good bye and having to answer the question of what’s next brings a feeling of dread. At the same time, there are also reasons to look forward to that time. But, in the meantime, I have so much work to do. And while my first year was marked by figuring things out work-wise and filling in the gaps with a busy social life, I think the second year will be all about work and being productive. I’ve got a number of plans that I want to see come to fruition in the next year and it will take a lot of work to get there. But I’m pretty confident I can do it. Just let me take a quick nap first.