Oct 17, 2023: Driving Lessons in Tbilisi, Georgia

McDonalds, Isani – Tbilisi, Georgia – 11:45am

I came out to Isani again today for a practical driving lesson again, and I really wonder why I haven’t been keeping track of my classes. I’ve probably taken way too many classes inside the closed parking lot, just practicing the same maneuvers over and over. I really don’t need to be spending the money on this over and over, especially since we get a few free retries on the practical stadium exam. I just need to try it once and see how it goes.

I’m honestly quite fed up with my driving instructor. The lessons are supposed to be 45 minutes each, but he routinely gets me to stop at 40 minutes. That alone, I could probably be okay with, but the biggest problem is that he won’t let me do the hill maneuver by myself, but that is my weakest point and something that I’m going to have to do in the exam by myself. I don’t understand why he doesn’t get me to practice that one part of the exam more. It’s like he wants me to fail the exam or something. Today was the last straw. He wouldn’t let me do the hill part by myself, but he didn’t sit in the car with me for probably 2/3s of the lesson. So, I practiced all the other parts that I’m fairly confident at over and over, and got minimal practice at my weakness. It’s frustrating, and I’ve told him over and over what I want to practice, and he just says no. He doesn’t have a good reason for it. I’m taking the theory exam again tomorrow and I really hope I pass it this time; then I just want to take the practical exam and I hope I can pass that too on the same day so that I don’t need to keep thinking about this. It’d be nice to just be able to focus on the city driving exam after.

It would be nice to be able to find another teacher. I mean, I don’t even know why I bother with this teacher because he can’t even speak English either, so I’m not getting the full value. There was a guy who approached me outside the driver’s licensing exam centre who spoke more fluent English and offered to give me driving lessons. Apparently 6 roads for 120 lari whereas he explained that other teachers would charge 50 lari each road. But, the thing is, I don’t know if he’s a real teacher. I don’t want to just get into a random person’s car lol.

Anyways, I’ll take it one step at a time. I’m going to be revising for the theory exam all day today, and then take it as it comes tomorrow. It’ll be another trip down to Rustavi, where I’m doing my third extreme driving lesson and then taking the theory exam, and hopefully the practical stadium exam.

Review of Foil the Strait

Also thoughts on an interview with James Sexton about marriage

Even before this interview, I’d never fully subscribed to the idea that marriage should be the end goal of our life plan. I think I’d famously declared when I was ten years old that I never wanted to be married, just wanted to live forever in my adventure house with my little sister. I’ve since fallen into romantic relationships since then and I guess I thought about marriage in an overly romantic sense, the idea of having someone be yours forever. It’s a nice, if idealistic thought. Of course, I also thought about marriage being simply a legal contract that could financially ruin you. Also, marriage being a jail sentence. Doesn’t mean I don’t still love reading about happily ever afters.

Still, it was super insightful to listen to divorce lawyer James Sexton speak about marriage as a form of technology. It is crazy that nobody ever briefs you about the contract of marriage. It’s even crazier that marriage is such an ingrained norm in society that it’s just assumed you’re eventually going to get married, or else something is wrong with you. I’ve fallen victim to that train of thought in my most depressed moments, when I wonder what’s wrong with me that I couldn’t make any of my past relationships work.

Sexton quoted Joseph Brodsky, who wrote this gorgeous line in his poem The Song that was penned after his wife passed away:

“I wish I knew no astronomy when stars appear.”

The Song, Joseph Brodsky

Very few lines just sink into me. This one dragged tears from my eyes. To me, this means that he wishes he didn’t know the science behind crazy wondrous phenomena that happen, that he could just witness and appreciate the beauty as it is without knowing the intricate details and explanations of how it came to be and how it will end. In a sense, knowledge is a burden, knowledge is a tragedy. When I heard this line for the first time, my mind immediately flitted to Chris. He probably would have heard this line before. I wish I didn’t know now how our love story would end. I wish I could go back to just seeing the stars. It’s kind of like watching your favourite movie for the first time. You can never go back to that experience, and it’s never quite the same after.

Doris Lessing, “To Room Nineteen”

I was re-reading this short story by Doris Lessing written in 1958 about a woman named Susan who feels this gnawing existential loneliness deriving exactly from being chained to her husband and four children. It’s a loneliness she can’t explain to others, definitely not Matthew, “a stranger who was her husband” nor other well-meaning but altogether suffocating acquaintances. They all seem intent on subscribing her medicine or having her see a doctor, as if that will fix the kind of emotional void and landscape of pain within her. Even when she is alone at home, she never feels truly alone and devoid of responsibilities; she feels her mind imprisoned by her role and duties as a wife and mother, the lack of physical boundaries infiltrating her headspace so that she has no mental boundaries either. Eventually, Susan seeks out the anonymity of a hotel where the owner won’t try to make small talk with her or get closer to her, and finally realizes the freedom she had so intensely craved. As Lessing wrote, Susan “remembered the short blissful hour of being alone, really alone. She was determined to arrange her life, no matter what it cost, so that she could have that solitude more often. An absolute solitude, where no one knew her or cared about her.”

In a strange way, I can identify with Susan. Not in exactly the same way, because I’m not married and don’t have children. But, I think what Lessing has astutely touched upon is exactly the reason why I travel. I travel for the things going on within myself, not because of the great, big beautiful world out there. I know people who travel for the culture, for the landscapes, etc. I wish it was perhaps as simple as that. I travel though for the anonymity it brings me… the ability to wipe the slate clean and be a different version of myself without the pressures of conformity to other images or selves that people who know me from a different life would put on me. I think that is something similar to what Susan feels weighed down by: the all-consuming oppression of always having to be the person that others expect you to be. Admittedly, while traveling, I feel like fragments rather than a whole being, but I think that’s just life.

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