FINDING HOME IN LITHUANIA

This past weekend I had a trip home. Not home home in DC or home home in Pittsburgh, but home home in my gut. I went to Lithuania for easter to meet up with my Lithuanian Dede (uncle), Tata (aunt) and cousin. I have visited Lithuania before with my family, but this trip covered whole new territory. I was without my fluent speaking father to help me order the right food and converse with my family, making it a whole new experience. My cousin, Arnas, babysat us for five days while we met his friends, drank lots of Lithuanian beer, and got snowed in almost every day. Because the snow was so heavy and dampening our spirits, we stopped climbing snowy hills and started hanging out indoors. We walked through the city center, stopping in churches or on bridges covered in love locks, admiring the quaint, European beauty of it all. With the freezing wind, I used my scarf to wrap myself like a babushka, and felt even more a part of my roots!

In all honesty, there isn't too much to see in Vilnius, especially when its covered in snow up to your knees, but there was still a lot to take in. I got to relax and learn more about my family, my heritage, and myself. The first night I was there, my Tata took out a very old photo album and showed me some VERY old pictures, including the last picture ever taken of my Opa before he fled Lithuania. My relatives are so kind, and so giving, and really took me and Alex under their wing. I am so grateful to know them, and so angry I never get to see them. They've taught me so much about the importance of family and I hope to take that home with me.