Leigh and Lithuania: Romance of the American
When I was in college, I had the chance to attend an international writing seminar in Lithuania. I remember the morning before I left being filled with the fear of uncertainty. As the five members of this rag tag crew set out from Sioux Falls on a brisk July morning, our moods change from quite contemplation to excitement to exhaustion to excitement to hunger to exhaustion and back to quiet contemplation. Our journey had taken perhaps 20 hours and four airports so by the time we touched down in Vilnius, the Capitol, we were pretty well spent.
This excursion was my first outside of America and I was eager to see more parts of the world beyond the reaches of the Upper-Mid West and California. The experience proved to be life altering, leaving me wanting to know this place like a friend or a lover. I spent most of my time in Old Town. The above picture is from one of the tourist drags that filter into Cathedral Square which stands in front of the medieval Gediminas Fortress (this is where the Singing Revolution happened in 1991 and spurred the fall of the Soviet Regime). Now, in Cathedral Square, there is a tile known as the “Wishing Tile” or “Miracle Tile”. It’s said that if you find this tile, spin three times clock-wise and make a wish it will come true. At the time I was in a complicated relationship and this was my wish: “I want to fall in love again.”
The universe took in my request and scratched it’s head:
“Who is this human boy who wants love? What does he love? Is it a person or a food of some sort? What can this mean?” said The Universe in the face of the vague request.
As it turns out, the universe sent no person or animal or food. It sent me a city pitted with a dreary history of violence and resistance stewed with unparallelled architecture and the beauty of anonymity. I walked the streets at night by myself unable to speak the language, having no idea where I was going or what might be around the next corner but falling in love with this place just the same. My experience there is largely unexplainable. It’s strange and distant in my mind but also close and personal. There are many times, even to this day, I can close my eyes and I’ll be sipping coffee at a side street kavine listening to the sounds of the bazaar in the static of tens of different languages.
Now, four years later, I have a chance to go back. I submitted to the same seminar program Summer Literary Seminars’ (SLS) Annual Literary Contest and won a fellowship (I submitted “Out of Africa” which can be seen as a rough draft as the first post on Acting Like Adults) . I have dreamed about going back ever since I left and now I might actually get to and interact with writers from around the world. But, I need help: The fellowship only covers a part of the tuition and I still need to acquire a plane ticket and money to cover other travel expenses (Lodging, food, insurance, etc.). The following link is to a fundraiser I have set up for this adventure. Anything helps! And in addition I’ll be writing cover letters to friends, family and businesses.
While I’m there I plan to do a video blog of my happenings and send post cards. And who doesn’t like post cards?
Here’s to a dream. Cheers. Skol.
With Love, All the Best, Travel Safe,
P.S here is the link to “Out of Africa” I refined it quite a bit but this is the original.