It all started last semester. I had been deeply disappointed when I heard through the grapevine that I would not be able to receive any mail in Georgia. Georgian Post was not reliable and special carriers (UPS, DHL) were sell-your-sister expensive. Care packages are a cherished family tradition. I was sad to think I couldn’t get nary a one over the course of an entire year.
So when I heard (oh, you grapevine, you!) that people were getting boxes sent good ol’ USPS with no problems, I jumped at it. Within a few weeks a care package was theoretically winging its way to me. I had only to wait.
And wait I did.
I had no illusions about the time frame. I am in Georgia. I’d been warned the post was slow. And I am all the way in Sachkhere. (When I told someone in the capital that I lived in Sachkhere, she laughed. Bad sign.) But I was a teeny bit disappointed (understatement) when we got to the week before I was leaving to come home for Christmas.
I grudgingly resigned myself to having my box waiting for me when I got back. Which made it almost pointless. I would be fresh from the US of A and would not be in need of any small luxuries.
My last day in the village, in the midst of rehearsals for the Christmas foreign language concert, the English teacher slipped me a half sheet of paper. She’d attempted to translate it for me, but it was a no-go. But the essentials were there: parcel, Customs, 20 days to claim, Tbilisi. I couldn’t imagine how my box managed to attract the attention of Customs. In the midst of a stressful last day, this was not the news I needed. I chanted soothing phrases to myself: it’s just a box, it will be okay, don’t stress yourself out. But it was just so IRRITATING!
I got this news at 11 AM on a Friday. With concerts, farewells, and a supra, there was nothing I could do until 4:30. Thirty minutes before all the government offices would close for the weekend. And I was leaving the country at 5 AM, Monday morning. I was totally and completely _______ (fill in whatever, to you, best expresses this hopeless situation).
I called everyone I could think of to call, up to and including the US Embassy (which was a complete waste of time. They were having a Christmas party). I discussed notarizing someone in my host family to pick it up for me, but there was just no time to arrange that. My family came up to my room to bring me some gifts and I happened to crack at that exact moment. Tears, lots of tears. Not for the box. Just for whole situation in general: end of semester stress, packing, traveling, etc. Picture a very weepy me and a very alarmed host family. Had to work for some damage control then. Managed to convince them that I would just deal with it when I got back.
In Tbilisi, I consulted our very articulate hostel owner. He did what he could, but when he too realized it was hopeless he began to crack jokes about how I could just wander through the bazaar and buy my stuff back. I was less than amused.
Back in California, I commiserated with my family and wrote increasingly testy emails to my program. They never responded. Thanks a lot guys.
My mom told me, as I’d been telling myself, that it was just things, easily replaceable, not worth getting stressed out over. But there was just something so GALLING about having to give up as lost this box. It had a new pair of jeans ($50), a warm pair of socks (REI, $20), a novel ($15), nylons ($5), Mapeline ($5), coffee creamer ($3), and an unknown amount of sweets to distribute to my host family, school, and students. Plus there was the shipping cost ($50) and the time it took my mom to gets all these things together. Altogether this felt like quite a loss, both in terms of time and money. Wouldn’t you agree?
I’d almost made my peace with my lost box when I remembered the warm Merino wool socks (REI, $20) and got upset all over again.
The unresolved issue of my box was heavy on my mind as I made my way back to Georgia.
Stay tuned for Part II