What I’ve learned, foreigner edition

Okay, I feel like in order to really close the book on the whole skinhead debacle, I really feel like I need to talk a little about what it’s taught me. I don’t think I would go so far as to thank the bastards, but I really think I have learned things that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t gone through such an experience.
First is that I can’t just assume that I know the threat that people pose based on my previous experience. To paraphrase Jamie Fraser, I come from a place where things aren’t quite so serious. I was applying Idaho standards, under which they would have postured, given us dirty looks, then went home and played video games or whatever it is that they do in their spare time. Now I know that violence lives a lot closer to the surface in some places, I can act accordingly.

I have learned that many Lithuanians appreciate us foreigners, even when we are naive and don’t behave according to the rules because we don’t know what they are. People who realize that it’s just as hard for me to step outside my cultural system as it is for then to deal with me being a dumbass. It’s not something that comes naturally.

Finally, I have learned a little about fear and about caution, and how those two things are related but not necessarily the same thing. Those first few weeks, I was scared. I barely went out after dark, when I did I was jumping at shadows and paying bums well just to leave me alone. Now, I think I have learned to just be cautious, more or less. I think I am slightly hyperaware of my surroundings, but it’s not exhausting like being afraid all the time.

I am learning, or trying to, as quickly as a stubborn Idaho woman can. I really hope that next time I can wake up to the reality that is being shown to me without literally being beaten over the head with it.

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