Vytautas Park

Neringa: In childhood, our parents would bring us to Vytauto Park. Back then, the roofs of Orbita looked like the caps of amanita mushrooms. This carousel was perceived as big children entertainment. So, what was left for us? The slow-paced Saulutė. In my early memories, children's festivals would take place in the park; it was possible to buy cotton candy and ride a pony. When the travelling American amusement park arrived at Kaunas, my mother protested our desire to go there and pay more than needed for our screams and flashing lights, so she brought us to Vytauto Park. She said that we would stay here just for a little while. The silence in the park was sometimes disturbed by tiny cars driven by its visitors. Right then, five minutes in a ship turned into an hour full of the simple joy of wind, and nothing better could have happened at that moment. I feel so thankful for her incredible patience watching her daughters from the bench. I come back here every spring for more than five years. Every time, I bring some people for whom this is a discovery. Now in my memories I see carousels, big ones, lots of slow conversations, Lithuanian music playing on the summer stage on weekends, with old ladies wearing starched collars waiting for the dancing on the little stage. Vytauto Park can be described as a little universe with its own spirit. But its crown does not belong to the carousels, their ancient demeanour and wild atmosphere, but rather to Regina, the employee who oversees a part of the park. I remember her presence in this space all the time and cannot imagine it without her. Without her, it would be a simple attraction. She somehow fills the space. Even when she stopped dyeing her hair orange and started to ignore the greying effect of time, she remained just as energetic: painted ladybugs on carousels, and if she recognized us, she would reproach us (Why do you come so late this year?). Sometimes she would wink and let us ride Orbita free of charge. This once, when I brought a group of foreigners, she got excited and started telling about her youth, when once at night, at Kaunas Botanical Garden, she caught a glimpse of a blossom of a large-flowered cactus that blooms once a year, and the other time, she told us about the real tree of knowledge: something about a walnut tree growing nearby and squirrels. Things like this helps you understand that sharing is good. Only each time, you return to the park as an old, somewhat guilty acquaintance, but not a conspirator enough for this to last for a little bit longer. This photo is for Regina. I have always wanted to give her this. (2014)