Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Visit with the Happy Couple

With the little red Honda engine ticking like a clock that is over-wound we bid farewell to Gvidas and head into our humble home away from home to change our underwear and get ready for Modestas to pick us up.

It’s a funny thing being in a foreign land with no access to transportation. Sure we could take the micro-bus – which by the way is a very cool service, simply stand on the corner – flag the bus down, get on and then ride until you tell the driver to stop. The only problem is that you must know the correct route to get on and you must know where to stop. We are not sure – so we need to rely on the kindness of others to provide transportation. In either case – it is something of an honor to take the American cousins around – so they do this happily for us.

Modestas arrives around 6:00 PM as planned, so we actually have a good 45 minutes to relax and regroup from the day. I know I should Blog a bit – but I don’t as it is nice not to think at that moment. It creates more work later – but that is OK – I will have plenty of time to catch up. As a matter of fact – I am writing this entry now on the way to Palanga, a resort town on the Baltic Sea – in the back of a little red BMW owned by Egidijus- the son of Gvidas. Wait – another little red vehicle – thank God for a bright, warm, DRY, sunny day! More on this trip later.

Any way…Modestas arrives and we are now on the way back to his apartment where Jolanta is waiting. Modestas lives on the other side of town for us – however it would be easy to find as he lives near the only McDonald’s in Kaunas – the only one in fact for over 100 KMs. We find that Modestas loves McDonald’s so it is very convenient for him to live near it! They serve McRoyals (Quarter Pounders) – a particular favorite of his.

Most of the apartments here look virtually the same. Large, multi-story concrete structures that are just short of being slum-like, however when you go inside – it is like entering a modern, beautiful home. All of their money and effort goes into the repair, decoration and upkeep of the inside of the apartment – the outside is left to the whim of the elements. As I said earlier – the apartments tend to run on the small size – this one is no exception. As you enter – directly to the left is the small kitchen, to the right is the toilet and next to that the bathroom. In front and slightly off to the left is the living room and to the right of that the master bedroom. The apartment itself is very tastefully decorated – you can see Jolanta’s touch everywhere. Lightly peach colored walls with reddish, very sheer drapes that she made herself. The furniture is newer and very modern. Everything is freshly painted and very clean. You would think you were walking into a model. There are a few things they have made do with as most young couple do. For example, the table we use in the front room to eat on is actually an old speaker that is covered in walnut contact paper with a round glass table top. Jolanta apologizes for this but we praise her creativity and compliment her tastes.

The conversation is pleasant and flowing – poor Modestas is lost a bit as Jolanta wishes to speak only in English (although she does translate – and Lisa’s father speaks to Modestas in Lithuanian as well). Jolanta is very engaging as she explains the coming wedding ritual next week. From the sound of it – we are in for a very good time.

Things start early for a Lithuanian wedding and are very traditional. However Jolanta would like to take a different track. She is going to mix the old with the new. For example she is going to have a wedding party that will wear matching gowns. The reception will not include most of the immediate family, it will be mostly made up of the younger crowd and some very special, closer family members. There will e a DJ with lots (LOTS) of dancing. This will be along with the traditional Lithuanian customs, for example they will go to the Wedding Chapel which is located in the center of the Old Town to be married in a civil service – that is required by law. Then they will go to a church to be married in a Catholic ceremony. From there they will go to the forest for pictures, then onto a bridge that Modestas will have to carry Jolanta over – this is a symbol of his strength and ability to care for her. She gets to choose the bridge and we suggest the steepest, longest one there is in Kaunas. From that point that are a couple more things that could traditionally happen – but she is unsure of that at this point – these are tests they must perform to show their skills for married life. Jolanta must diaper a baby and Modestas will have to chop wood. But as I said she is not sure if she wants that much tradition. After that is complete it is on to the reception. Normally at the reception there is a lot of sitting, eating and drinking and speech making. However, Jolanta would like a more modern wedding reception – so that is off of the table. There will be the toasting and speech making – but she wants people to dance and have fun – which is why there are mostly young people invited to the reception. From the sound of it – it should be as fun as one of our own weddings in America!

The visit is nice and not too long. Around 10:00 PM we suggest that it is time to go as they still have a lot to accomplish before the wedding. We say our good-byes and head home. We are in the car no more than 5 minutes when Jolanta calls on the cell and tells Modestas to hurry home. It is very cute and we begin to tease him to tell her “I Love you” – as in “The Godfather” when Michael was teased by the mobsters who were bunkered down with him and he received a call from Kay.

A wonderful end to a wonderful day!

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