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Location: Midwest, United States

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Footsteps Echoing

I walked the length of Laisves Aleja a few too many times to count. It’s a broad boulevard that traverses the length of Kaunas from the Nemunas River to the ancient heart of the medieval city. I grew quite fond of that street, despite the howls of protest from aching knees. I walked its length in sunshine and rain. Walked for hours to meet a friend, see the sights, digest a dinner, metabolize alcohol and, above all, to breathe the air and...feel.

And it was there, on the west side of that boulevard, that I noticed the pavement had embedded bricks carved with the word “Tulpe” (“tulip” in English). These bricks extended for a full block but bespoke no connection whatsoever to the adjacent storefronts. The “tulips” were a mystery.

I came to learn, from that dear friend, that these stones marked the location of a street side café that was once home to the actors and artists who would gather there each evening.

Before the War. Before the horrors.

How to describe the emotion upon realizing that my grandfather and grandmother had spent many an evening there? Before the War. Before the horrors.

Reflexively, I stepped a bit more gingerly. Quite a bit more pensively.

No, I didn’t hear footsteps echoing...

I felt them.

* * *


Blogger Wine and Words said...

Before the horror. Sad that there is such a time....before. I read a book in which a couples child died. The spoke so often of "before", as if it were real estate...a state, a continent. I suppose "before" really is a world away.

I'm so happy that you noticed though...the bricks. Everyone is always talking about looking up. I find so much in the other direction.

Wed Jun 15, 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger secret agent woman said...

I wonder if we really new any location's full history if we wouldn't have to walk around more pensively all the time.

Wed Jun 15, 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Ah, yes, the words "before" or "once" can certainly pack a punch (good or bad, depending upon the specifics).

I think I've spent a few too many years looking down or looking behind. I'd rather tweak those predilections and simply look around.

I'm not sure I quite understand your comment, Ms. Quaker Operative, but I'll simply say that I've trod many a trail I never truly understood. I'd like to change that.

Wed Jun 15, 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger PattiKen said...

Wonderful writing, Jonas. I could feel you feeling it. I often feel the past in places, and sometimes even think I can hear it if I am just still enough. To feel your own past... awesome.

Fri Jun 17, 12:07:00 PM  

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