Making Motorcycle Memories with New Friends: The Lithuania Version
When The Scientist was in negotiation talks to seal the deal on our Lithuanian adventure, he jokingly told the hiring committee that he was happy to move around the world as long as his wife, greyhound, and motorcycle could come along. (Yes, in that order!)
But y'all need to know this wasn't really a joke - I think he was dead serious.
This guy has been riding motorcycles almost his whole life and has a strong bond with his 1975 Moto Guzzi. And beyond this, he'd done an extensive rebuild on it, so there was never a question in my mind that this Guzzi was joining our adventure - more like a non-negotiable. (Hey, I'm just glad I made it to the top of his list! That was close!)
Now that we're here in Lithuania, we've found that, much like having a dog, motorcycles can be an incredibly unique way to make friends in a new country. In our relatively short time here, this guy has already gone on numerous rides (with and without me!), including some sort of adventure race - like a Tough Mudder for motorcycles between Vilnius, Kaunas, and Ukmergė. (Y'all know I didn't join for that one! No thanks!) Even when we were at Mėnuo Juodaragis, he told me he'd run into another motorcyclist he'd randomly met at a gas station in Vilnius, someone we're now friends with. And you know why? Motorcyclists are always happy to talk to each other about their bikes, their gear, their favorite rides - it's cute. Motorcycling in Lithuania - and I'm sure it's the same even further north - requires a genuine ability to take advantage of the clear days, to grab your opportunities when they show up. So, it makes sense that motorcyclists here stick together.
This test came to us in real time a few days ago.
His pride and joy; photo by our new friend Viktoras
Walking down to the forest from our home, we noticed some men gathering around a motorcycle in a townhouse garage, laughing and hanging out. Honestly, they looked like they were having a great time - they even piqued my interest. But when your dog has been patiently waiting to go to the bathroom, you keep walking and don't ask questions. I wasn't about to get disapproving looks from my greyhound - these curious Americans were gonna have to wait. On our way back up, though, my husband noticed the motorcycle in question was vintage (cue Scientist swooning!), and that there was another motorcycle behind it. Ever the extrovert, he took one look at me and I knew exactly where we were headed.
What happened next exemplifies exactly why I love Lithuania and Lithuanians. Mr. Extrovert happily entered the conversation, sharing about his own motorcycle, and a new friendship was forged right then and there - in our own backyard! We ended up all huddling together in this small garage, talking about - what else? - motorcycles, moving abroad, what it's been like moving to Lithuania as an American. These conversations came organically, but it took walking over to bridge these social waters. Do you know how many times we've walked by this house without knowing they existed!? I find Lithuanians to be very kind once you get to know them, especially if you initiate the conversation - these folks were no exception. Hospitable, kind, funny. It's wild to me that we could create this new connection taking our dog for a walk in our neighborhood, although I should know by now that my husband and I walk into these types of situations all the time. Is it because we're open to them?
When you move somewhere new, whether it's abroad or the next city over, there's an element of vulnerability, a liminal in-between, but you're also naturally more welcoming to new experiences. For example, especially when I attend GGI - Girl Gone International - events, I tend to feel vulnerable, out of my comfort zone. My curiosity and desire for genuine connection usually overrides my anxieties, but it's consistently a struggle to get myself out there, even a year in. The point is this: it can be a little intimidating, but that welcoming energy is still present, ready to ignite. I think we've done a good job at keeping on our toes and not getting complacent. My GGI events introduce me to sweet new friends also interested in history or art, especially the smaller groups, and my women's circle also creates a container for genuine connections - motorcycles do the same. The next day, my husband went on a motorcycle ride with some of these new motorcycle friends, and later in the day, we hung out with even more motorcycle friends.
Yes, the theme for this week - beyond recovering from COVID - was clearly motorcycles and forging new friendships. If you're in Lithuania and looking for someone to ride with, I can point you towards at least one guy who'd be happy to participate in a new adventure.
Photo by Viktoras
Keep putting yourself out there, even if you've been in the game for a year, three years, ten years, twenty years. You never know who you're going to meet - they might even happen to live right down the street.
And speaking of adventures, I'll be going on my own next weekend so no blog post next week. I think you'll really like the next one, though, so stay tuned! Feel free to subscribe at the bottom of this page to receive a bi-weekly email from me on whatever's on my heart that day! And as always, I'll see you next time here at Into the Forests I Go - iki pasimatymo - see you soon!