My hunger for English sneaks up on me. It follows me around, jumping out when the loud British guys walk by, when I pass the Australian couple at a café. My lack of Lithuanian is complete in ways that my Japanese was not. I can’t even say God bless you. I’ve tried a couple of times, and reverted immediately to Salut! or worse Gesundheit! I push that one down pretty quick, as I think it would only be worse if I tried to bless people in Russian.
It’s possible they don’t say God bless you in Lithuania. I mean, the Danish have no word for please.
At the bank, I happily chirp Aš nesuprantu as I’m leaving the currency desk, only to be gently reminded by the teller that it’s viso gero. You are understanding, yes. And saying goodbye, yes. Viso gero.
I want to ask my barista for a drink on ice, but while I can find the iced drinks on the menu, I can’t figure it out. She points to the word: “For us, šaldyti? This is freeze.” She points to another word and another one. None look like what she said, this šaldyti. Different cases of the same word. Frappes, lattes, and coffees lay out their relationship to ice. With ice, on ice, iced, can be with ice, cold like ice. I stammer through a pronunciation, only to have her laugh and correct me. When I order my drink, and then I say the word again, she laughs and corrects me. Different case. Different word. I tell her that English doesn’t have as many differences.
She stirs the ice in my latte with a purple straw. “This is American thing, I think. We have more shades.”