კარგად იყავი – pronounced kargad ikavi – roughly translated means, "be well" or as Americans might say, "take care." Tomorrow morning I will get on an airplane and say goodbye to the place I have called home for the last 26 months. I can't believe this day has finally come.
The past few weeks have been very difficult, full of farewells and tears. But now that my bags are packed and it's time to go, I'm feeling just like I did when I left the U.S.…kind of blah. I'm not sad, excited, nervous or anxious. It just doesn't feel real yet. Georgia has become my home and to think I'm leaving for good… well, I just can't wrap my mind around it. However, I'm sure tomorrow morning will be a different story. :-(
The last 26 months have truly been surreal. There really is no way to sum up my Peace Corps service, other than to say it's been a life changing experience. I've had the best and worst days of my life here. I've seen some of the most beautiful places in the world. I've made great friends, both Georgian and American. I've met the love of my life. And hopefully I've made a difference to the people around me.
What's next, you ask? Well for starters, I'm flying to Hilton Head, SC to see my mom, relax, and start the reintegration process. I'm planning trips to Greenville, SC to see my dad, Wilmington, NC to see my brother and his family, Indiana to see my grandmothers and family members, Colorado for a high school reunion, and DC to catch up with friends. After that, who knows! I haven't quite figured out where I want to live or what I want to do; I'm hoping it all just clicks one day. Until then, I'll be enjoying my new American life!
As I close this chapter of my life and get ready for whatever's next, I thought I would share some of my favorite memories from the past 2 years…
Moving in with Rachael
Meeting my training group for the first time
Spending time with my sweet host sisters, Ana and Mari
My daily walk to school in Rveli
Our community project to renovate a classroom in the Kvibisi school
Moving in with Rachael
Meeting Alex, my Kvareli counterpart, for the first time
Signing paperwork before our official swearing-in ceremony
A foggy morning in Tusheti, one of the mountainous regions in Georgia
Making churchkhela, a Georgian dessert, with my Kvareli family
Lunch with the then-U.S. Ambassador, John Bass
My first Georgian winter... brrr! (this was inside my bedroom)
The first time I successfully made a fire in our pechi, a wood burning stove
Tapas in Spain
The birth of my nephew, Grant
An adventurous outing to Uplistsikhe, an ancient rock cut city
My mom comes to Georgia!
Our trip to Turkey
A breathtaking weekend in Svaneti, Georgia
My amazing host family in Kvareli
The view of the Caucasus Mountains from my house in Telavi
Meeting Gus's parents in Tbilisi
Our amazing trip to INDIA!!
Skiing in Gudauri
The National English Spelling Competition
The Telavi bazaar
Rock hunting in Batumi
Completing two years of Peace Corps service!
And of course, meeting Gus!
For those in the U.S., thank you for your constant support and encouragement over the last few years. I can't wait to see you all again! For those in Georgia, thank you for everything! You have made my life better just by being a part of it! Please know you will always have a place to stay in America. For those I served with, I congratulate each of you and wish you all the best. კარგად იყაკით!