|Even the cows stare at us funny.|
Just yesterday I was buying a loaf of bread from a bakery in town I’ve never been to before. The bakery was quite crowded and just as I was about to receive my loaf the baker turned to me and said, “kartuli khar? G’khavs accenti” (Are you Georgian? You have an accent).
I took a small breath anticipating the aftermath of saying I was American and replied “Ara… Amerikidan”.
Now, I kid you not- the entire bakery broke out into song and dance. The baker began singing to me about
and beautiful girls; meanwhile all the customers at the shop began to whisper to themselves as if questioning whether or not I was a celebrity. Even as I walked away from the shop many customers yelled, “Goodbye America !” America
My problem is that I’m getting used to all this attention and love and don’t know how I’ll cope back in the states when I’m just another human on the street. I’m now used to random strangers breaking out into song when they meet me, to children I’ve never met personally addressing me on the street. I’m used to getting free vegetables at the bazaar simply for having an accent and smiling too much and to getting text messages from Georgians I haven’t seen since September who just want to know how I’m doing and if I’ll visit them soon.
Of course, the most love I get is from the students at my own school. (I’ve even dedicated a drawer in my bedroom to love notes from my students). This semester I’ve taken more of an effort to get to know the students that aren’t in my classes. I’d like to meet every child at my school, regardless of whether or not they’re studying English.
Thus, when the bell rings and school’s over I try to chat with a student I’ve never met before even with my limited Georgian. The conversations never really delves any deeper than, “romeli simraera gikvars?” (which song do you like) but I like meeting more kids, especially when they’re all so excited to have me in their school.
After school today I walked home with two tenth grade girls I’d never met before named Naniko and Khatia. The three of us were headed in the same direction so for fifteen minutes we talked about our siblings, the music we like, who our friends are and our favorite kinds of Georgian food. Granted, none of this is brain stimulating stuff but cut me some slack, that’s fifteen minutes of listening and chatting in Georgian! In New York, if I just walked up to someone I’ve never met before and started asking them if they can play any instruments they’d most likely ignore me thinking I’m trying to sell them something.
My ‘foreigner fame’ has reached a new height recently. Over the past few weeks I’ve practically been rented as entertainment for birthday parties. A whole bunch of Nini’s friends have February birthdays and they all insisted that I absolutely must attend their parties.
Basically, I’m a party clown. I sing songs during dinner, I mispronounce things in Georgian, I dance when no one is dancing (and I accidentally use the juice cup as a wine glass and pour myself three times as much wine as anyone else). At the last party I went to I even brought my entire computer to DJ the event and nearly got yelled at by a group of fourteen-year-olds for not dancing “crazy enough”.
There is a lot of power in my being the clown though. At one party, Salome the birthday girl made another girl stand up and move her seat at the table because she wanted to sit next to me. Oh, and at a different party, I decided I was only going to dance with the boys that no girls wanted to dance with (‘Wedding Singer’ style) and lo and behold my ‘undesirable boys’ ended up dancing it up with cute girls the rest of the night.
This power and fame I have as a foreigner has even stretched into marriage proposals with strangers. A woman I sat next to on the train gave me her address and phone number so that I could come and meet her son and marry him.
I’m sure a lot of this attention has to do with the warm and welcoming nature of Georgians (not just that I’m some goofy girl from the
United States) but it’s still going to be a challenge to resort back to being just another American in come July. Therefore, I’m going to eat up my fame for the next four months. America
I mean, I might as well face it- I’m addicted to love.