Lurking in Toronto

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My name is Jurgita, I‘m 28 and I’m still seeking for my true self, experiencing a constant struggle finding my place under the sun. I have a strong belief, based on my own experience, that people barely ever change. They change their priorities in life, yet, their inner selves remain the same since they are formed in their teenage years. From the time I came back from Canada, I search for myself where I left it when I was 16.

by IEVA JUODELE
photos by DARIUS MARKUNAS

“I‘m living Kafka metamorphosis ever since I remember. Covered in abstractions, suddenly struck down to reality.”

All I was doing until now, I was changing and adjusting my roles in certain situations – I was a student at university, a daughter in the family, an employee in my workplace and a wife in my marriage life. Now I’m about to have the only one version of myself. The one, which accompanies me, but not my surroundings.

I‘m a rebel. I always was. At the very moment I get settled, I want to break free again. This is what happened after I came back from Toronto. 

(lights a cigarette)

I grew up in Lithuania, in one of Vilnius neighbourhoods Zverynas, which has a meaning of animal kingdom. So I was raised there, I have many good and bad memories, happened around Zverynas ponds. It doesn’t matter where I go, this place is in my blood. It is part of my essence. 

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Canada happened to me suddenly. I met a man, I quit everything, I left. We got married. I was scared. For the first months I couldn’t leave home, hardly could go shopping. I had this anxiety of being chatted by people because in Canada they simply do that. It’s in their nature and is hardly imaginable to any Lithuanian, that someone on a traffic light discusses how beautiful the day is. I remember once I was buying everything for baking muffins. Flour, filling, sugar powder…things… The cashier looked at them and got super excited, saying: ”So someone is baking tonight!” I was begging in my mind, oh god, please no. Don’t talk to me. Now I’m fully capable of being alone and this self-sufficiency is what I brought back to Lithuania.

Toronto is like a super eccentric, open minded, hippie person who dresses in colours, who is always ready to socialize, never judge. It's not a place for someone who is suppressed. Even though you mostly feel relaxed while being amongst Canadians, communities are still present: among nationalities, among interest groups. 

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After a while living in Toronto, I got employed in a rehab clinic. 

I worked as a collector. Since I speak Russian, my work was to deal with the insurance companies, collecting insurance money for the cause. Ugly job. Ugly and stressful job. I had to quit, otherwise, Toronto would have left a hole in me.

So, the next day my vacation with no due date had started.

(silence)

Being idle was slightly depressing. My husband worked as an engineer so on the weekends we were travelling, and I’m thankful for this period in my life I’ve got to see the United States in general. You have to understand one thing, my family in Lithuania is extremely settled, so Canada was the first place I lived separately from my parents, new international experience, new friends, my first and new husband. In two weeks my life had entirely changed. I was dipped into the pot of nations and a variety of people with their diverse attitudes. 
The very first two months in Canada were defined as homesickness. I felt as if I was stuck in limbo: between my calm routine in Lithuania and dreaming big in Toronto. Later, I was ok. I fell in love with the High Park where we lived – it had the most in common with peaceful and green Zverynas. I never got used to the noisy downtown and always enjoyed spending time in strips – centre street in each of the neighbourhood with its cosy bars and restaurants. Sometimes my evenings were sacred by holy Bloody CaeserBloody Mary version with clam juice. I still think Canada is the only place in the World you can get Bloody Caeser with a giant lobster on top of it.

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Sometimes I am not sure, whether I am made more of Lithuania or Toronto experience. To Canada, I had brought my reticence, my tiny comfort zone, which eventually had to break. Back home I delivered with myself the openness, awareness I can be myself much more often than I allowed myself to be.

After 6 months in Toronto and further travelling, I’m finally back home to Lithuania. Home is where you can be yourself, where you don‘t have to pretend. It‘s where once you step out of your comfort zone you say ‘Fuck it’ and go back to it like to a homey cave, all different, all mentally grown up.

 (smiles)

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