I’ve been on the receiving end of plenty of truly thoughtless, sometimes intentionally cruel things spewed forth from the mouths of manchildren, but perhaps the most cutting remark came absentmindedly from a man I’ve been “seeing” (can you call it that if he doesn’t know your last name?) since October. He’s set to go to Russia this summer for work, and since I’ve been to Georgia and have been considering going back for quite a while, we often talk about the region and he asks for updates on when I think I’ll actually go strike off as a freelancer in Tbilisi.
I should have known better than to tell anyone I was thinking about moving back to Georgia, if for no other reason than this proverb: “Want to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.” Because once I even hinted that I wanted to try to support myself as a journalist there, I was setting myself up to fail. It’s been more than a year since I started talking to Georgian nationals, other journalists and editors about how I can make my dream work, and still, I’m no closer to taking action than I was when I was a student.
But back to this man, whom I made the mistake of telling my deepest hopes, tricking myself into believing that if I say them aloud and to enough people, surely they’ll pan out. One night after we had gone over my reservations yet again — I don’t know any editors who want my work, I am broke as it is, I owe the government and my parents thousands upon thousands of dollars, I have no insurance — he said, in some roundabout way, “We both know you’re not going to Georgia.” (We? Who’s this we?)
It’s stayed with me since then. I should know better: that he doesn’t matter, that he has no right to tell me what I will and won’t do, that he’s wrong. But he might not be. So instead of getting on my feisty high horse and laughing in the face of his misguided doubt — I’ll show you, you irrelevant maroon! — while trotting off to Georgia with a reporter’s notebook in hand, I wonder if he’s right. I wonder if I should have told anyone my ‘plan,’ and more than that, I wonder if I should have even considered it in the first place.
And the reason his irrelevant opinion hit the nerve it did, possibly as much as if my sister or parents or editor had said it (which they haven’t because they get me, okay??), is because I might just agree with what he said. Might. The discussion never really came up again; he asks now and then if I’m still considering Georgia, and I say, Yes, but not for a while. Not until I can. Not until I’m ready.
All the while, I’m secretly plotting the day I do go abroad and write an article and get paid for it — voila! instant foreign correspondent, if only fleetingly. He’ll be the first person I tell. And whether it’s next month or next year or twenty years from now, I can’t wait for that day to come. It might end up being the only reason I go at all.