A good half of Tbilisi descended on my doorstep last night, from English journalists to Georgian filmmakers to American writers and teachers (only half of them expected, but no matter!). The pasta was plentiful (I used a particularly spicy arabbiata recipe/spice mix bought in Rome this July); there was baklava, bizarre pastries*, plentiful chacha, and some rather limp-looking cured meat that went untouched.
My terrace (with the inexplicable pool table) was overfilling with smokers and pool-players; the kitchen and living room were equally crowded. Somehow, in the space of about two weeks, I've gone from knowing nobody in this city to hosting twenty-five in an evening, with a relatively even split of Georgians and non-Georgians. Proof, I think, of the power of the Internet (and my blog, several of whose readers were in attendance!) I had a phenomenal time, and for the first time got a proper glimpse of what a "life here" might mean in anything more than the abstract and talk of afternoon strolls in Sololaki.
Success, overall, although I'm terribly anti-social in general: I've spent the day in bed drinking tea and reading Hegel, and would be perfectly happy doing that for four months straight (replace Hegel with Durrell or DH Lawrence, or possibly Victor Hugo)
Of course, then I get terribly confused, as ever. I love my apartment, my life here, my friends, my job - which lets me live here, and gives me spare time to write novels (or dissertations on Hegel). But then again, I have a life and a rather significant other and an academic background and so many good friends in Oxford, too, and balancing these two selves gets increasingly difficult. I belong in Oxford, although I very much don't in England; but I belong in this apartment, on this street, with my Chaikhana and my Mucha prints and my shisha pipe in the makeshift Cabinet of Curiosities in the study.
(Then again, I belong in Paris, where we used to celebrate Christmas by buying ornaments at Bon Marche, and in Rome, where the portiera used to sing me lullabies in Italian, and in New York, where I used to wear pink wigs, and in Trieste where I wrote my novel and got love letters from a waiter in Piazza dell'Unita and Vienna where I lived for a month on honey and yogurt and Dubrovnik where Emma and I spent days cafe-hopping in the rain, and Ischia where my mother has gone to the same village for thirty years, and Marrakech where I read Dumas and ate croissants in a riyadh courtyard and...
...Well, you see the problem. I love everywhere, and so I'm always homesick. I grew up everywhere, and I miss fifty cities in the course of a given day. Clearly some timeshare involving Paris, Rome, New York, Tbilisi, Vienna, Trieste, Ischia, Marrakech, Dubrovnik, and Oxford would be the ideal solution.)
*Apparently my local supermarket will sell me dessert for twenty for 8 lari!