No need for blue flowers

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They told us of a blue flower hidden in the gloomy forest behind us. Each year that small fern blossom would show it’s ocean-eye colours to those daring the step into the unknown deep woods, alluring young boys and girls with the promise of any free wish granted once it is found. And that day was today, the living legend of the burning fires of Joninės, the ancient celebration of the brightest of all nights.
As usual we arrived later as planned. We came hitchhiking from Kaunas, and due to my Sicilian company we got stuck near Žiežmariai when a local drunkard asked us to help him find his way to – wherever that place should be. With fascinatingly bad Lithuanian skills that huge Italian heart next to me tried to help that man by sharing his food with him and leading him back to one of those nearby villages that all got a look as if they had just popped out from a dusty fairy tale. But as it was not the first situation of such kind, again that man’s reaction showed me that a lot of those poisoned by their lack of self-control do not wish any help out. They just wish another bottle of vodka, until doomsday may arrive.
It was only around Midnight when the sun started to set that we arrived at the hills of Kernavė, the heritage of old pagan Lithuania. There were voices, deep female tones wandering through the air, getting louder and faster the nearer we climbed to the edge. Canon choirs that went directly to my synapses, disconnecting all that should make me work, and leaving me behind numb and dizzy, only following the nearly painful screaming of those sun worshippers. I saw tall men in white linen shirts crowned with massive oak leaf wreathes. Then women wearing golden bracelets and long colourful skirts that formed big woollen circles around them when they started spinning. The red setting sun drew a shining line around all these moving bodies and their laughing mouths, and in front of the sparkling water of Neris river where hundreds of lights were floating from little wreath candle boats I knew how Titania’s and Oberon’s world would look like.
And right in that moment when the night fires got lighted and one little girl climbed on the shoulders of her father to let a sky balloon float up the sky it all came down to the one thing – I suddenly knew that I would not need to search for the blue flower. All I needed was in me and around me, nothing to add and nothing to wish for.

When I look back from a distance to my European Voluntary Service in Lithuania it seems more like a dream landscape than the actual truth. When I left Germany there was still summer, arriving in Lithuania it looks as though I would have skipped several months and would have arrived in late autumn. Summer is a rare thing in this tiny country at the Baltic coast, and in September at my first days I could still see the last berry selling grandmothers on the local market, decently covered in checked woollen plaids around their wrinkled faces. My first steps in this unknown and nearly ever heard of country were careful ones. What kind of a place was this Lithuania? A former Soviet country with a dark shadow of miserable past wafting around, or a peaceful venue of beekeepers and Basketball players? Does it live in the past or the present? And what to think about Kaunas, the second biggest Lithuanian city, that appeared to me as a German just as small as any middle-seize town I know. And most importantly, what would Lithuania think of me?
Well, first of all it simply did not care much. Wheels and screws did not stop working just to applause my arrival. So the best way would be to also become a part of the daily life’s mechanism and do what I ought to do.
Memories fade the more I try to recall the details. Just a few winks that clearly pop up my mind. My Lithuanian teacher only several centimetres away from my face, showing me how to put the tongue in an absolutely absurd angle. “Rrr! You have to rrrroll the tongue!” The sound of Lithuanian, one of the oldest languages in Europe, always reminded me of wrought up singing birds. It was only long time after that when I finally distinguished some words out of the rrrrolled gibberish, and when it slowly started to make sense at some points.
Then there were my friends, the international ones as well as the locals. Me sitting on the groggy handlebar of the fragile Soviet bike. Behind me my friend that kept on screaming to not move so much and to not wink euphorically to all the people that passed by. Until we turned into Dauksos Street where we discovered two young sisters standing still in the dark. The older one whispered: “Don’t be afraid, they won’t do you any harm!”, and thus opened her palms when dozens of glow worms rose and illuminated the street like a gate towards another world.
Then there was the strict face of my boss, the founder of the project. Her straight back near the window at supervision, her green eyes looking deep into mine and giving me new strength when I was down. How could I forget this woman?
There were also those moments with my clients that still chase me on some days. Weeping faces and sad eyes. Indrė and her scarred arm, telling me her story. The vision of men pulling her, dirty injections in dark rooms, bright lingerie spread all over the hotel room. Then the day when she ran naked along the frozen canals of Amsterdam, not understanding any of their words, until the police came to fetch her. The day of freedom and indignity.
Urtė in the hospital, with her dark curls in a wild tangle around her head. Bright empty eyes and her coarse voice, “Get me out of here! They are all crazy!” My stomach turning upside-down locked in that grey and cold square house.
Then there were those days of bliss and throbbing adventure. My first hitchhiking on the way to Klaipėda with the thrill of being young and alive in my neck. Climbing up the roof of the empty Soviet hotel in Kęstučio street with a feeling like being the secret kings and queens of the town. The sauna days at winter time when we all jumped into the crystal-like shining snow hills at minus 26 degrees.
Those times of raw, pure freedom. I still keep the message that my friend has sent me that one morning before the ice was melting. “We have changed. Can you feel it?” Indeed, we have. We all felt joy and frustration, guilt and responsibility. We all had a point where we wanted to go back to our safe homes, and none of us regretted the decision to stay. Lithuania was our teacher in the bad and good times. It sent us a smiling granny giving us apples from her garden when we were out of money. And on other days when we just thought we knew who we were, it set us a task that made us feel again like in one of those never ending mazes.
And this is the reason why we all should dare the step abroad. Once you think you lose yourself, you have got the chance to find out who you really are. And my wish to all is to also lie in the gutter for once and realize that all you have to do is just grab the hand of a pedestrian to stand up again. And if that pedestrian happens to speak Lithuanian – just roll the rrrr.

Fifth Edition

5While closing the 4th edition of Scriptamanent, after the final meeting in Izmir, we are already preparing the new call for the next edition of the project. Stay tuned!

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