|Eating at the newly opened Hard Rock Cafe Tbilisi.|
|We may have gone a bit overboard with the souvenirs.|
Our last night in Georgia. Everything starts to speed up toward the end. This spring I often found myself looking out the window as we would drive through town, with the soundtrack of life playing in my head; and it'd be like that part of the movie after the protagonist has triumphed over the main obstacle and the story just speeds along with clipped scenes, overlaid with upbeat but conclusive music.
The Georgia we are leaving is not the same Georgia in which we arrived. On the positive side we have noticed much better supply chain management, improved roads and highways, and a general cleaning up of the city where before there was graffiti (of the dilapidated paper variety) everywhere -- litter is an ongoing problem. Many of the old abandoned buildings that have sat vacant for years are being torn down and new development is going up. There has been a deluge of Western-style development that has changed the face of Tbilisi. New shopping malls, grocery store chains, movie theaters, amusement parks, coffee and donut shops, American-chain pizza delivery and fast food restaurants, specialty restaurants, "Georgian-fusion" cuisine, city tour buses, an expanded and better developed tourism industry, and even a Hard Rock Cafe (what?!) have all popped up where before there was nothing of the kind. It's all happening so fast, I hope, truly, for the best for Georgia.
We are not the same people we were when we arrived. It is harder to quantify how we have changed, but, most obviously, we are now a French-speaking family, we are professional packers and travelers, and we are veteran expats. We've gained greater skill navigating the vicissitudes of life, we have an unmistakably clear understanding of what a privileged life we lead, and we have experienced firsthand the joys and tensions of cultural exchange. Our world-view has expanded.
These skills should serve us well, because it looks like we will be doing the expat thing for the foreseeable future. We are off to another post, another life, another reinventing of self and family. We go home to America for the summer, but next fall we begin anew in Moscow, Russia.