After a day in Riga (sometimes called the Paris of the Baltics), Doreen and I see similarities between Klaipeda (where we visited the Curonian Spit) and Riga. They are both tourists towns and wealthier than Vilnius. But they feel colder and more sterile. Residents seem aloof and bored, like it is all they can do to deal with the very folks who create their livelihood. Vilnius, on the other hand was warm and welcoming. I felt bereft leaving Vilnius, like I was being forced to vacate a home that was never really mine to begin with. Vilnius captured my imagination...I saw myself living there; baking at a local bakery or providing picnic baskets for the ballooning companies. Maybe living on the outskirts of the city in an old farmhouse (there are plenty) tending my garden and my chickens, maybe having a cow or a couple goats. A life that would be a small slice of the life I've made for myself in the states. In Vilnius, we walked everywhere, never taking public transportation as we did other places, but confining ourselves to maybe a 25 block area around our apartment. We came to know it pretty well and would go out some days with a mission in mind-a stop at our favorite bakery for coffee and pastries or a visit to a thrift store we had peered in the windows of after hours- and other days simply to wander down back alleyways we hadn't explored before. Everyday, after coffee and toast in the apartment, we would head out, unencumbered by chores that would occupy us were we home. Home in Texas being the middle of nowhere, I walk only for walkings sake or the occasional hike to the mailbox, because anywhere I walk I will still be in the middle of the woods, yet this choice is mine and I don't regret it.
We have a week left on this trip and for the first time (gasp!) I find myself thinking of home. We have a new baby duck that our mama Pekin hatched out which I look forward to seeing and I have menus to work on for a group coming to the ranch just a few days after I get home. There is more travel for work in the Fall that I can't bear to think about now and a wedding outside Chicago the end of August for which I am supplying the cake...the logistics of it confounds me so I have chosen to not make plans until I am forced to.
This vacation has been a reconnecting with Doreen for which I am so grateful as she has been an excellent travel companion. It's also been revelatory in ways that this 55 year old woman on the brink of major life changes could never have expected but welcomed all the same. I am going home excited about life and ready to embrace whatever comes my way.