Excerp from interviews
I emigrated, as everyone did. While you're still in Lithuania, it seems to you that it is good abroad. You leave and it turns out that you are a loser, but it is the biggest disgrace to return to Lithuania without money. So you start to have a career and so the game begins. You want to become a man. It is impossible in one year; it takes three, maybe. But when you are there and you become a man, the question of identity arises: who are you?
When you start to go into that world, then you begin to realise that this is a very different world. It is very interesting, but it is quite different. And you find out that your 'Lithuanianness' is hindering you – you must reject it. So I stopped reading in Lithuanian, listening to Lithuanian, and if you're deeper into this world, you're more in this world. It is such an infinite world, Shakespeare is endless, the old English language is endless, Commonwealth Case Law is endless…
I went to university. You somehow become more and more English. I started to work for the Queen in castles. Already the little bit of aristocrat in me appeared, which is basically alien to me. But I needed to look alike. For me, it was very difficult. So I had to look right. Even the shoes, socks, English football attributes, watches, right down to the tiny details. You must be just so. But then the question of who you are causes problems. The more you reject your Lithuanianness, the more successful you are in your career. If you were able to erase everything Lithuanian in yourself, that would be ideal. But then the problems start when you're thinking, because sometimes you think in Lithuanian. Sometimes in the evening I want to speak Lithuanian. In the night I want to talk with a woman in Lithuanian, you know.
And expats. What are they like? They create a small Lithuanian community and it's OK. I failed to create my small community. My daughter came – she didn't like England. I didn't find a woman and I began to blend in with the wallpaper. There were some Lithuanians, they suggested I could go and live with them. There, in the Lithuanian Islands, it is like a little Lithuania. In fact, I didn't say a single English word there in two weeks. There were hairdressers, prostitutes, Lithuanian shops – it was Little Lithuania. But I was already somehow hurt by that thought: well, I want to go to that Lithuania. But I really didn't think that here in Lithuania it would be so scary and so terrifying. When I came back, I found it so awful here. The unlit streets, those people, those snouts, the attitudes, the aggression, the re-identification, are you a clan man or not..? And somehow I had lost the habit. And somehow I wanted to act in a civilised way. The swamp began to pull me in. I started to drink and gained weight when I came back. It was awful. I didn't know what to do. My past life in England is uninteresting and yet living here again has become impossible.
And the worst thing was that when I returned, I didn't find the Lithuania that I had left. I found people, but I didn't find that Lithuania. A friend said, as you drive away, that's all gone. No relationships, no person, no friends, all of that is gone. I thought, if I'd known, maybe I'd never have returned to Lithuania. Because I have not returned to Lithuania, but into relationships that no longer exist. The sense of friendship in Lithuania has disappeared, it's gone. Somehow it evaporated, was erased. So I came back into the desert, everybody spoke Lithuanian, but nothing here has been good.
I looked at all those returnees who pretended to feel good here in Lithuania. Half of them couldn't adapt themselves to Lithuania, and the other half generally never left. They lived abroad in Lithuanian islands, washed cars somewhere in gas stations and spoke Lithuanian or Polish. They had not really emigrated. You know, emigration is when your brain emigrates. But I looked again and I saw that all of these returnees are total misfits. Or else they only feel good here because they were losers abroad. I saw many of the returnees didn't really learn anything abroad. As they returned, they also tore. And there are not so many of those returnees, because they didn't really leave. They lived here in Lithuania with their mentality, and they came back with the same mentality. The worst is for people like me, who also left in terms of their mind and who tried to integrate themselves into the local cultural life abroad.
I've met a lot of Lithuanian emigrants abroad who are no longer Lithuanians. They have no Lithuanianness left, even if they do speak Lithuanian. To leave and to come back – you need to feel it very sensitively. Do you want to break yourself and stay abroad forever, or are you going to return because you can't be there? Because there is no double citizenship law in Lithuania, in fact, you can't be there. The process of harmonisation is impossible, it's very difficult. We have nothing in common with them, and they are not the same as us.
Why did I return? The answer is: I don't want to die in that country. I was living a good life in England, but I didn't want to die there. I was scared at the thought of dying in England. Or that I would be lying injured in a hospital and unable to speak Lithuanian before I die.
I didn't want to be in Lithuania because I felt bad. As I saw it, this country didn't appreciate me. And still doesn't. Because of the clan system, it doesn't allow me to go beyond the limits of a clan. My clan limit, in the best case, is maybe some department head, but I never will be a minister. I hated this country, I left and I wanted to become a completely fair, normal British citizen. And I put all my efforts into that. Strange, but the idea that you're going to die in a foreign country… When I realised this, I returned to Lithuania. And every day here I thank God that if I die, I will die in Lithuania, among my own. People don't realize the enormous joy of being among one's own. And life here is very difficult, I can tell you: I quit smoking, I quit drinking beer, I quit eating meat, I quit almost everything. It is so hard to live in Lithuania, you have to mobilise 100 percent, even 105 percent of your strength. Life in Lithuania, in fact, is about the fact that those who have achieved something in Lithuania, their motivation, and the motivation of foreigners, are two different things. For them, it is life; for us, it is survival.
You are either an eagle or a rooster, there is little in between. Previously, I had millions of friends. I'm no longer in touch with them now. Because when you come back to Lithuania, you find out that relationships have changed. It is very interesting. You come back to Lithuania and they don't need you, and they start to treat you like an item of low value. And now I am again a rising star, and I'm already on the horse, and all of them come to kiss my hand. But things have already changed. If only when I came back they had accepted me in a friendly embrace, and said: "Hello, you came back"… But it wasn't like that. "So, you bastard, you came back. Show us what car you drive. Fuck, this should be abroad, what a car…". And now everyone is smiling, waving in the streets. But wait a moment: I distinctly remember how they looked at me when I returned. The first question was: "How much do you earn? What have you brought? Which apartment did you buy?" When it became clear that when I came back I lived with my parents – somehow that made me some kind of cock. Life abroad taught me a very good lesson, however. You travel abroad and then you see a very good basic principle of the Lithuanian attitude towards you: "How much you spend, how are you, what do you get?" And if the answer shows that those in Lithuania are on a similar level, you will immediately feel the pressure: "Ah, he's just some kind of beggar, he grinds the shit". Due to the fact that in Lithuania, those who have less smarm up to those who have more. They are into social climbing. And those of a higher social standing try to kick down the social climbers, to climb a step higher themselves. Because of that, it's very difficult.
What is Lithuanian within you, you hate and you love it. Not what you share and what connects you with Europe, but what makes you different. And we appreciate that this is our own identity and want to remain ourselves. It means that we hate and yet also love what separates us from others. For example, all Lithuanians love basketball. Our basketball is no cause of shame to us. We love and we hate it. Because of basketball, no other sports can develop, because basketball sucks up all the money, and we have no money for other sports, we don't even have enough money for a football stadium.
I think all Lithuanians should be forced to emigrate for a minimum of three years. While living abroad, they would see what it's like. Then they would understand what's wrong here. But also start to assess what is neither good nor bad, but what is a joy. For example, Lithuanian cucumbers are such a joy. Getting used to the bad food abroad is the hardest thing for Lithuanians.
In fact, a Lithuanian man doesn't really liberate himself, he only changes one set of handcuffs for another. We live in a matriarchy, we men are created this way. Lithuanian man, he can't live alone like Englishmen do. He always lives with a woman and when it comes to a crisis, somebody takes him by the moustache and leads him somewhere. Because women rule here. And the men are well trained: when they are drunk they can beat and whoop, but really the men don't change anything. We've become used to being a big strong muscle mass. If Lithuanian women were smarter, they would use us as it should be. And in reality, they nag us too much. Nag, and then some men commit suicide, others drink too much, or get killed in accidents. We are big and strong, but we are very vulnerable. Because the Lithuanian man is an emotional being. And really, when you live abroad, you see that you are more emotional. He loves one woman, then he loves another woman. He loves Maryte, but he goes to Nijol? and can't ignore Onute. It is like this.