My Photo
Location: Midwest, United States

Friday, June 03, 2011

Passionate Discourse

(Discourse entirely in Lithuanian...translation provided for Dear Reader’s convenience)

We were sitting street side at the inaptly named “California Tapas Bar.” Beer and wine flowed freely, punctuated by plates of cheeses, sausages and sundry morsels (some quite tasty but all decidedly NOT Spanish in either heritage or spirit).

To my right sat three comely women who had been drinking Chardonnay gratis, courtesy of the four vagrants from America. Two were embarrassingly young, one faintly Eurasian, the other definitively Aryan. The third older, harder-edged.

You’re not Lithuanian” spake the hard-edged one.

Once you’ve left the country, you cannot claim to be Lithuanian.”

My uncle blanched. His hackles did what hackles do when provoked. But he was flummoxed, speechless, taken aback by the very notion that someone didn’t consider him a Lithuanian despite the fact that he was born in Raseinei, that he cavorted in the native soil as a young child until the Russians came, imprisoned his father and left him an orphan, a homeless eight years of age.

He’d spent his entire life aching.

Me? I kinda missed most of that conversation. Pity.

I kinda caught the tail end.

I turned to the hard-edged gal (whom I considered rather attractive), raised my glass in a toast to her and her compatriots and intoned the following (more or less):

I was born in Canada because my parents were war refugees. My family, for the most part, perished in Siberia. My parents had little choice. Flee...or die.

So I came to be born in Canada, but my family moved to America. I grew up in the United States. Spent my entire adult life in America.

Both countries consider me a citizen, and I love both countries in return.

But we spoke only Lithuanian at home. I spent each Saturday in Lithuanian School, studying grammar, the literature, history and geography of a country I’d never seem but came to love as a sort of Camelot.

Sundays? I was a Lithuanian Boy Scout. I did all the “scout things.” Went to scout camp each summer.

So, here I am. Born in Canada, raised in America, and loving Lithuania from afar my entire life.

What am I? I don’t know.

You tell me

* * *


Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

You're the best damn multi-national blogger I know! :-D

So did Ms. Hard-Ass have anything to say back to you? Or did she not understand a word you said... which would have been a pity.

Fri Jun 03, 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Thank you, Ponita.

Truth be told, Ms. "Hard-Edge" kinda blanched, recovered her poise and toasted me/us in return.

We are who/what we are. Damn the labels. Beneath all, there's just a human heart.

Fri Jun 03, 09:26:00 PM  
Blogger PattiKen said...

Lovely story, Jonas, beautifully written. And it delivers an important message.

How difficult it must be for us mere humans (who are indeed all the same at the core) to set aside the need to look for a validation for prejudice, a reason why "I am better than you are, nyah nyah." So difficult that after centuries, we still aren't able to do it. Sad.

Sun Jun 05, 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

My sister's first boyfriend was a Klevinskis...

I believe he said he was one of those Litho people too...

Sun Jun 05, 11:32:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

I believe there are approximately as many ex-pat Lithuanians roaming the globe as there are residing in Lithuania. One of the sad discoveries this trip is that there has been a tremendous exodus of young professionals...a significant "brain drain" most damaging to the country and its economy.

Mon Jun 06, 12:08:00 AM  
Blogger Wine and Words said...

Who are you? An accordian file. Expanding, contracting...collecting, revisiting, storing! Jonas, it is a beautiful photograph. I love your country(s) merely in your telling, especially the one you can't keep your eyes off of. Your gaze is so revealing. You are in love.

Tue Jun 07, 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger anna said...

I'm not sure what I am either. I nodded my head through most of that post.

Fri Jun 24, 01:27:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones