I’m visiting a country where historically, writers are revolutionaries. In Lithuania, the Sajudis was bolstered by the publication of a newspaper. Writers are national heroes, and book-smugglers are folk heroes. Into this mix, we throw the fact that many Lithuanians left the small nation for political reasons, economic reasons, or like me, were born to refugees in exile and then grew to love and identify with the land of our heritage — while laying down deep roots and lives where we were born.
When I was a young teen I was fluent in Lithuanian, passionately political, an activist, I visited Lithuania while the country was occupied by the Soviets and attended demonstrations every weekend. Once Lithuania rid itself of Soviet occupation, I dazedly finished my senior year of college and moved to New York. Now, I write about the feeling of being left out, the feeling of not-quite fitting in to American culture, and not-at-all fitting in to Texan culture, and only knowing the surface of Lithuanian culture. I dance in the liminal spaces between nationalities: I’m all of them and therefore none of them. Polyamory in politics is seemingly impossible.
That said, at the 2022 Lithuanian Writers of the Diaspora Forum, the 20 or so participants were invited to tour the White House and meet Lithuanian First Lady Diana Nausėdiene. I was honored and went —surprisingly, drawn to the glimpses of America I found.
You are forbidden to take photographs in most of the Lithuanian White House.
I discovered this fact while photographing this Glass Creation given in 2011 to a Lithuanian President by USA Secretary (of State, but okay) H. Clinton. There was also a glass art dome given by President Obama, a gold plate commemorating a visit the Lithuanian President made to the DC White House and a clock given by Vice President J. Biden. Lots of fancy stuff from other countries too: chess sets, gold things, the usual.
Photographing the exterior is okay.
The back of their White House is as beautiful as the back of our White House. Just like ours, the President works here and takes important meetings and holds summits. They open their park to the public every night at 6pm and hold free concerts and readings and other artistic events, or just allow people to picnic and enjoy…