‘Sveiki, where can I find Omega 3?’
‘Laba diena, they’re right there on the bottom shelf.’
‘I have only one recommendation for every disease. Drink a bottle of red wine in the evening.’
‘You recommend drinking a bottle of wine every evening?’
‘Yeah, or two. I mean it won’t fix the disease, but for the night, you’ll feel spectacular!’
‘I wonder if anybody has wandered across the border and accidentally found themselves in Kaliningrad…’
‘Well, actually, I did meet a guy here once who had gone drinking one night and got a bit carried away. He decided to take a walk and woke up in a village in Kaliningrad.’
‘Yeah, he didn’t want to walk all the way back, so he just gave himself up to the authorities and… it took a month of diplomatic procedures to have them release him.’
‘Sounds like a memorable hangover.’
‘Yeah, and then there were the sheep.’
‘A friend of mine is a shepherd. This one time, his sheep were pasturing around here and at one point the border patrol reported that the sheep have been spotted in Kaliningrad, and that the only thing to do is to wait for them to come back. They did!’
We do not know what silence is before we hear it.
One of my wildest wishes when coming to Nida was to achieve complete and total silence, even if just for a second or two. It might not sound like much, but for me, it means the world.
I had always considered myself a night owl, creative only at night when everything except my mind has fallen silent. So, the darkest hours are precious to me. Here in Nida, however, I’ve discovered that I can do a lot more and better in the morning. As long as I get to work immediately after waking up. No news, no notifications, no messages, nothing, just a great cup of coffee and straight to work. If I don’t act fast, there will be an embarrassing memory, at least two dialogues (one from the past, one imaginary), the first four lines of some poem, a grocery list, a useless invention, and an idea for a trip looping in my head, plus an eerie chirping sound and somebody playing Here Comes the Sun on an accordion in the background. Silence is not a given for me.
One afternoon, the first really sunny and warm afternoon where you can actually take all your stuff outside to the yard and sit there for a while, I did exactly that, not expecting anything, just appreciating the sun. And then it happened. There were no passing cars, no wind, no Beatles – a perfect lack of sound. Utter silence, like my head was in a vacuum. It went on for several seconds, and I was sincerely starting to think I had become deaf, when a merciful woodpecker interrupted. (It took me a minute to realize it was a woodpecker, not a funky clock.) I got curious and started looking for other forms of life I had forgotten about over the endless Baltic winter. The usual suspects popped out, like crows, ants, ladybirds, wasps, and they were followed by a tremendous variety of other tiny creatures, whose names I don’t know, going about their regular business around me, in the grass, on the trees, in the air, just like they had before I remembered to notice them. Unbothered.
I sat and stared for a long time, with just one looping thought:
‘Not that you had a choice, but thanks for having me here.’
♥️: cafe/roastery Musangas and restaurant A Casa Mia in Klaipėda, film Paradas, Valley of Silence, Nida Art Colony, Nida’s cats, Nida’s swans acting like cats, sunlight on any surface
*The “Artist Residencies” project is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.