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February 24-25, 2024:
I made dinner reservations for us to all go out to eat with Angus and Too Clean. I really wanted my thru-hiker friends to meet my family. In the meantime, we we walked around CC and went window shopping. Then, we stopped in the center of town so they could enjoy a glass of wine. Ingrida looked at me ever so fondly. I felt I was being watched and studied.
“What?” I asked nervously.
She held eye contact with me, yet was directing the words towards my mother. “Your daughter vill never lose her vay in life,” she said.
My mom smiled and received what she said then began telling Ingrida a story about a money issue I had experienced a couple of years back. It felt a bit embarrassing having her share it out loud with people as it was a very private moment between us two. But since it was already out in the open, might as well.
Basically, it was my mother’s birthday and we went out for dinner with her friends, around 20 of us altogether. I had went out with groups like that in the past, but with my family and their friends, so I was always used to them paying for me. I wasn’t aware of how the payment worked when it came to such a big group as I had never found myself in that situation. I assumed we would all pay separately.
Since I didn’t drink alcohol and was experiencing a lack mentality around money, I figured I would get the cheapest option on the menu which was a dish that had 6 pieces of ravioli totaling $11. When it came time to pay, everyone decided to spilt the bill and the total came out to $100 each. I felt so triggered because it was a point in time where I was saving every penny and in the very beginning stages of developing/starting a business from scratch.
The following morning I had woken up feeling off. I went to cuddle up with my mom on the couch and gulped my tears back. My mother was always very well mannered and had awareness of rules regarding social settings, so I asked her how etiquette worked in a situation like last night. She explained how it was proper to split the price with everyone.
(Translated from Lithuanian into English) My voice started quivering as I said, “Mom, I know to you guys $100 is nothing, but to me it is a huge deal. I can find a way to live off that for a long time.”
I started tearing up, losing it. It was so difficult to talk to my mother about it because I felt guilty for it being her birthday and I felt idiotic crying over $100 ravioli when I could’ve just sucked it up.
My mother started crying with me.
“Oh, my little sweetie,” she said as she wiped the tears off my face.
“I don’t understand,” I continued, “I’m working so hard, I’m putting all of my energy into this business, I’m saving up all of the money I can and somehow it keeps slipping away.”
“My baby,” she said, “I can see how hard you work. I see it every day. I see how much time, energy and money you invest and I know it’s not easy for you.”
As my mom was retelling this story to Ingrida, she started welling up with tears.
“It makes me cry every time I start telling this story,” she said.
Then I started crying remembering the moment as well. That day, my mom taught me what the correct etiquette was and explained that in a moment like that to not get the cheapest meal, but to splurge because the price will even out. In the situation I was in, I got fucked over the most.
My mom had said, “Since you don’t drink, don’t be afraid to get the most expensive meal!”
At this point, both of our faces were wet with tears.
My mom looks at Ingrida and says, “Goda is very down to earth. She has never asked us for money. She always showed us that she wanted to do things on her own. Even if she found she was really struggling, she would never ask us for help.” She looked over at me and I put my hands on my heart, gesturing that I was receiving her words with gratitude. I felt so seen by her in that moment. She continued, “Goda chose this life for herself and if I can support her, I want to. It’s not like we’ll have the money when we die.“
A couple of years passed after that moment and then came my fashion show. I had 20+ people come see the event and in the end we went out for dinner. I was way more joyous this time through and you can bet your ass I got the most expensive thing on the meal—lobster.
My mom was there and she goes, “Aha! I see you learned your lesson!”
“Yeah,” I said, “I got it this time.”
Tadas interrupted, “It would be funny if you guys all paid separately that time.”
At the end of that dinner, everyone decided to pay for me since it was a big event for me. To top it off, my mom had saved the money people had spent on the tickets to come see the show and gave it all to me as a surprise. I bawled my eyes out because all of that money went directly into my trip for New Zealand. Before that, I had barely nothing for the trip, but I always knew it would work out one way or another. I felt so grateful that I got to spend it on life experience and where I found the most joyousness—long s distance hiking and exploring the world.
My heart felt so full that my mother saw me in such a humble way, yet the same amount of pain followed for I knew she didn’t know me for all that I was.
“Guys,” I said, switching up the conversation. “Can you please act normal in front of my friends tonight. It’s really important to me.”
“Vat?” Asta goes, “ve not normal?”
“You’re the most normal one out of everyone in this group,” I said.
Then she started laughing like a complete maniac. “MUAHAHAHAHAHA! I’m the normal one!” she exclaimed, “not any of you, ME!”
I took a sip of water and said, “Not anymore.”
So we started walking towards the restaurant and I told the parents to hurry up because we were almost late. I turned around and they were all gone! They went in a store and got distracted buying alcohol to take back to the room.
I went in to pull them out and said, “Come on guys! You can buy some later.”
We were approaching the restaurant and cut through the grass for a more direct path. Then, my mom started running around, twirling and skipping.
“Mom, stop being weird,” I said sternly but in a tone that let her know I secretly loved it.
I would say stuff like that to her, but I didn’t really mean it. I actually loved watching the way she would express herself. I loved seeing her happy, and I adored her wildness. I loved her just the way she was. I wasn’t really embarrassed by her the way I claimed to be sometimes. I mean, I had the same genes as her so I would only be taking shit about myself.
I saw Too Clean standing outside of the restaurant who most definitely saw my mom twirling around in the grass. I greeted him with a hug then shot my mom the ‘don’t be weird’ look.
The first thing she did was give him the ‘I’m watching you’ gesture and say, “Hello, I am Goda’s mother,” in a very thick Lithuanian accent.
I face palmed. “Mom.”
Ingrida goes, “Vat ze fuck vas that.”
Then we ran into Angus who was waiting for us inside. Suddenly, I started experiencing social anxiety for putting my blood family together with my tramily. I ran into the bathroom to cool down, then arrived to the table and chose a spot.
First of all, I was the one in charge of picking the restaurant so naturally I chose the coziest looking one. I didn’t realize it was extremely fancy, the kine where they watch you eat and take your orders without writing it down. I wasn’t good in places where I didn’t feel I could relax and be myself.
My parents and their friends were doing a great job being ‘normal’ for the first 20 minutes. They were so calm in their demeanor, asking the guys a bunch of questions about backpacking. I was basking in happiness that we were all sitting at one table together and that my family could get a little taste of our community. I say that, but getting a taste would more accurately mean dirt-bagging it in a Mickey D’s and splaying out our gear outside to dry.
My parents kept whispering to each other in Lithuanian, telling me to ask my friends certain questions and translate because they weren’t getting a lot of it. They were especially having a hard time understanding Angus’s accent. At one point she was speaking to my Dad in Lithuanian and said Angus’s name out loud in English, completely mispronouncing ‘Angus’ to ‘Anus.’ She thought she was being discreet but he overheard.
I shot my mom an aggressive look and said, “Oh my god, Mom. It’s pronounced Angus!”
Then she looked at him and said, “Oh, I so sorry,” and that was the moment it all went downhill.
I looked more closely at her face. She was red and her eyes were building up with tears. She was trying to hold back a smile, but I could tell she was breaking at the seams.
Oh no. She was about to have a laugh attack.
I apologized to Angus, then my mom looked over at me from behind my Dad’s back. She was trying to do everything in her power to hold it back. Her eyes were now bloodshot. She was smiling without showing her teeth and biting her tongue. She was bubbling and rumbling, about to erupt.
Tears started streaming down her face as she said, “I sorry,” then completely lost it in loud laughter.
Then I roared in laughter from looking at her, and then Ingrida followed. It was as if we were vomiting laughter. We weren’t able to make eye contact with anyone at the table. It was so uncontrollable and lasted for about 10 minutes. The guys were sitting uncomfortably trying to change the topic, but we just couldn’t seem to take anything seriously.
Tadas was the most centered out of all of us, telling us to be serious and have some common courtesy.
Things started to simmer down until his wife looked over at Angus and said, “Let’s just get dis out of ze vay. How do you pronounce your name?”
My mom looked at her and begged, “Please don’t do this right now.”
Then Ingrida asked if it was pronounced as something completely unrelated to his name which was the Russian word for ‘tree bark’ and that was when all hell broke loose. Tadas busted out laughing and my mom and Ingrida were nearly on the floor. My Dad put his head in his hands, embarrassed for us.
Tadas and my mother had to excuse themselves from the table. I was still not able to look Angus or Too Clean in the eyes without nearly pissing myself. I almost spat my water out trying to drink it, so I excused myself from the table as well. I ran over to my mom and Tadas who were standing in a corner laughing their asses off like a bunch of immature 12-year-old kids. It was one of those situations where we knew it was rude to laugh but the fact that it was rude and that we weren’t supposed to just made us want to laugh even more.
We got it out of our systems and all came back to the table a couple minutes later. We sat down and I tried so hard to be professional at the fine cuisine restaurant. Next thing my mom did was accidentally spill her glass of water directly onto Too Clean. My mom looked at me from behind my Dad again with the same tears in her eyes and we just lost it again in full blown laughter.
“Mom,” I said, “I asked you to be normal for one night.”
“I know,” she said, wiping the tears off her face.
The waitress came to help clean up the spill, looked at my mom and said, “Ope, looks like you’ve had too much to drink.”
Too Clean overheard us and said, “Wait, you asked them to be normal? In front of us?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Let me get this clear,” he said, “you asked them to be normal… in front of hikers?“
“Good point,” I said.
Honestly, putting our walls down was the best thing that could’ve happened. It felt as though through the laughter and letting go of the roles we played, we were able to actually connect. Overall, it was a great last day to have in CC, coming together with my family and thru-hiker friends.
The following day I had a flight booked back home to Hawaii. My Dad got me an Uber straightened together so I could arrive to the airport safely. Ah, I missed being taken care of like that by men. I had went through an entire ‘independent woman’ stage in my life where I had wanted to do everything on my own and figure it out by myself. It was fun for the little while that it lasted, however in my own experience, I noticed how it took away a lot of my femininity. Yeah, I could do all of the stuff men did for me on my own, but it wasn’t as fun. Now, I feel deep gratitude for all the ways men want to provide and take care of me.
As they were waiting for their own Uber, the wives started talking shit about their husbands, complaining about all the things they seem to do wrong. My Dad and Tadas were just standing there confused as to why they were getting roasted. The funniest part was to see how calm the men were. They were just looking down at their feet, smiling and taking it. I could see how they weren’t taking their women’s angry projections as serious, but rather as playful. They both understood that they were just experiencing an energy and letting them get it out of their systems.
I was so grateful to at least receive that lesson from my father, to witness how calm he was around my mother. He would never raise his voice at her, he was always gentle with her yet knew how to be stern. As his daughter, that was a gift for me to see.
Tadas lightened the energy by saying, “Vat did ve do to deserve to receive all of these projections all of a sudden? I was just minding my own business, and now I feel like I am being attacked.”
“No, no, sweetie,” Ingrida said, “it means ve love you.”
“Oh, that kind of love,” he teased.
We hugged goodbye, my mom and I cried separating again. I must’ve received that gene from her as well—the melodramatic one.
I arrived to the airport and for the first time in my life spent extra money on a bougie kine seat. I paid for three seats so I could lay down on all of them. Honestly, I will never be doing that again—completely unnecessary for me personally when I knew I could knock out just by sitting upright.
When I arrived to the airport, I bought some McDonald’s for a quick snack. They claimed they would only take my order through some giant screen. Yeah, no. I ignored that and walked up to the cash register to pay in cash and talk to a real person. I ended up getting completely ignored—not even a little bit, but a lot. The workers would walk right past me even when I was trying to ask for help. They did the same with the other customers, completely brushing them off as if they didn’t know how to interact with human people anymore. It saddened me seeing how people didn’t know how to communicate face to face anymore. It especially rubbed me the wrong way when a woman with a child in her arms was trying to get their attention and they looked at her, flipped their hands up as if she was a nuisance and just walked in the back. Although I loved McDonald’s because it reminded me of thru-hiking, moments like that inspired me to support more local kine restaurants where people were actually being seen and heard. I was getting over living in this lazy, robotic world.
When I was waiting at the baggage claim, I met a girl my age who was with her man. They were rock climbers and she was wanting to get into thru-hiking and said her ex had hiked the AT last year. I loved the synchronicities.
I was excited to be back in America. I missed the chaos of my people. In NZ I found people appeared a little bit more uptight and reserved for my liking. Plus, who doesn’t put butter on their french toast?