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Our Wedding Anniversary & The Baltic Way

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

On August 23rd, thirty-four years ago, on the year of my birth, 1989, nearly 2 million people came together, held hands, and formed a living, breathing chain physically connecting Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia--The Baltic Way. In the lands of amber dreams, this chain was woven not of metal links, but of human hearts and hopes, kindred vision and purpose. A radiant bridge of human connection, spanning 430 miles (690 km). A deeply moving and visually striking scene and testament to the resilience and beauty of the Baltic spirit representing both unity and independence from the darkness of Soviet oppression.


The Baltic Way.
Two million people joined hands, forming a human chain from Tallinn through Riga to Vilnius. Photo by Gunnar Vaidla.

ABC News (USA) made The Baltic Way their top news story on August 23, 1989.


From the venerable foot of Toompea's ancient stones in Tallinn, Estonia, through the enchanting crossing of Riga, Latvia and the meandering waters of the River Daugava, to the steadfast foot of Gediminas Tower in Vilnius, Lithuania, this serpentine link surged onward, guided by the yearning for liberty that bound these three lands.



Saeima's presentation on The Baltic Way. August 20, 2019.


At 1900 hours, as the sun kissed the horizon with its golden embrace, for fifteen minutes, this chain of humanity's hearts beat as one. This quest for freedom transcended boundaries, a grand opus composed in the name of liberation, penned by the hand of fate itself, where the human spirit, like a flame in the darkest night, blazed a trail toward the zenith of freedom and enlightenment. A sense of unity and brotherhood was born, and the USSR confessed to the existence of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, also known as the Nazi-Soviet Pact.


A beautiful example of how peaceful protest can spark change.

 

On that same day, 29 years later, you and I secretly wed in Iceland, the Land of Fire and Ice. We encountered a cavalcade of myriad snafus, but still managed to complete the mission.


En route to the courthouse of Iceland’s northerly capital, Akureyri the control arm of our rental car broke, and our tires popped.


We slow-rolled into an illegal parking spot, walked through a misty rain to Norðurland Eystra’s district Commissioner’s office, and were joined in legal marriage in a nondescript conference room where a random police officer and secretary were haphazardly asked to bear witness.


I had written a vow on the back of an Einar Jónsson postcard, and was full of nervous smiles.


23 August 2018, In the Land of Fire and Ice. Photographer: Lallisig Photography (The Inimitable Lárus Sigurðarson) Location: Heiðmörk, amidst the Rauðhólar, bleeding pseudo-craters and lava-fields.



We burned our whole worlds down to be together. You were sure of me, and I of you.


I marvel at what we’ve helped each other to become and to achieve. So much more than I’d ever imagined. Our union has made the world a better place. And your love has given my spirit peace. Five years later, we’re still together, living a life less ordinary. Five years later, you still believe in me, and I in you.



The festivities this year began with two average vegan doughnuts from Holy Donut for breakfast, a cavalcade of kisses and riotous giggles, a bag of spicy curry soup and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, a walk to the river Neris for a gondola ride, feasting on special sweet and savory mega pancakes at The First Pancake, Pirmas Blynas, a restaurant employing those with disabilities inside of Saint Virgin Mary’s Church. From there, we received a passport stamp from the micro-nation, Užupis. Across from the bronze mermaid, in this place beyond the river, we sat and sipped mild poison. “Largo Al Factotum” played in the distance, and we stood with the Lithuanians, commemorating their anniversary in song until the flowers rained down from the stage to the swaying audience below. We walked toward the mist beneath a velvet sky to Saint Catherine’s Church. Inside, Banda dell'Arma dei Carabinieri played classics in jazz, dressed in full regalia. We laughed and smiled and clapped. When your eyes met mine in the dark corner of that church, words would have been superfluous. Outside, Spanish dance. Another round of mild poison at a Lithuanian cafe beneath a web of faerie lights. A little cat skirt’ beneath our table. Meandering along the river’s edge, we returned home to share a box of truffles (vegan, of course, from The Church of Pancake), and fell asleep with a blue-eyed snow white feline goddess between our faces.



We joined the Lithuanians gathered, hand-in-hand to commemorate the anniversary of The Baltic Way.



 

Happy Anniversary, my beloved husband! Happy Anniversary, Baltic Wonderlands!


Happy Anniversary, to the ones near the zenith of my Hall of Heroes, Rivs (Dr. Tommy Rivers Puzey) and his wife, Stephanie Catudal!

Happy Anniversary to my beautiful friend with the angelic voice, Kim Yang and her husband, Stuart! And Happy Anniversary to the soulful musician I've admired since my childhood-- Rufus Wainwright and his husband, Jörn! What an honor to share this day with you all.

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