Tennessee was a blast. First of all because of my old friend Emilija that lives there, whom I have not seen for over 11 years. As teenagers we had lots of parties with guitars above her sauna. I still remember her sister singing for us there. How did we end up meeting in Tennessee after that many years?

Long story short, Emilija is here in Tennessee raising three kids. But the first one to arrive in Tennessee was her older sister Marija, who, as you may guess, is a singer. Her specialty was Country music, which was a unique thing for a lithuanian at the time, but she also has an angelic voice. Marija met her husband Billy at a Lithuanian country music festival in Visaginas, where he was a guest performer from the USA.

It did not take long for Marija to drag her sister Emilija with her. In the end, two Tennessean brothers are married to two Lithuanian sisters. During our cozy stay at their place, we had a really hard time remembering all the names, but after two days I did: Emilija & Lance with Mathew, Marcus and Malakai, Marija & Billy with Nicholas, Timothy, Mayla and Elena, made our Thanksgiving the most memorable of all (no need to mention all the food, which was AWESOME).

It’s hard to describe how special and warm the time spent together was. It is very gratifying to meet people after years of separation and understand that you can continue the conversations like the years had never interrupted them, just a couple of kids added noise to them.

During this time, we had much bigger discoveries ourselves. Our dearest friends believe in quite opposite things we do. However, our conversations were deep, civilized and we were eager to understand each other, contrary to what is happening online. I was overwhelmed when I understood how I limited myself to only one point of view and never even had an opportunity to hear the other side. After these conversations, I realized that we have never read the same book, or the same article. I felt stuck and surrounded with only one stream of information. But it was also comforting to realize that we all want the same, just see completely opposite ways to get there. If I lived in Tennessee, I would be a different person today. Same if my friends lived in California. We adapt to the environment that surrounds us.

Not only did we get to stay next to Billy’s music studio, but we also experienced live music on Broadway. My expectations for Nashville were exceeded and I cannot wait to come back next year to finish exploring the east side of Tennessee.