Welcome to the United States of America

Welcome to the United States of America

As soon as Vaidas went out of the mailroom with the pockets and hands empty of letters just a week into basic cadet training at the Air Force Academy trying to understand, who stole his letters, he was immediately sent back to reality.
“Nobody loves you!”- Downie, A1 element leader screamed at Vaidas.
“Yes sir”- Vaidas said, and felt a strange feeling to Downie, the guy, who hated the whole world and who waas more likely an animal than cadet first class at the Air Force Academy. Vaidas started imagining Downie raping young girls during his free time and then putting on the uniform and telling him what the truth was. Downie also was teaching him the core values of the Air Force Academy and introducing him to the honor code. If Vaidas had been in the same situation in Lithuania, he would have punched Downie in the face, but this time he waas thankful to Downie: he opened Vaidas’ eyes and Vaidas realized that he is alone in the United States and that he had left behind all good things in Lithuania.

Vaidas was sleeping when the plane landed in Denver and th

he pain in his head woke him up. Vaidas had a dream: Americans are so friendly.people who don’t know
him are smiling and greeting him saying “welcome to the United States! Very soon you will find yourself arriving to heaven!” All people live without any problems. Vaidas forgot how he skipped lunch at school in order to buy a bus ticket which allowed him to get home faster, how he refused to go to the parties and spent his free time studying, how he worked nights to pay for his studies in Vilnius University. Vaidas saw how much Americans care about each other and the rest of the world, and how neat and nicely they live. Vaidas found a lot off friends, got extremely rich and worshiped the days of joy.

“That’s it, here we are”, said Ieva (the girl, who was going with Vaidas to the academy) after getting out of the plane in Colorado Springs. Vaidas awoke from his illusions about America and noticed that he was not going alone to the unknown. They were going through the airport and Vaidas felt how everybody was looking at him, because he looked in kindly words weird; he was wearing red so
ocks, black shoes, red T-shirt and his white girly pants were too short for him. Vaidas was also carrying a black briefcase similar to that serious businessmen carry, and was looking at every face of the people going by him with a child-like curiosity, and it seemed that he was asking everybody how they are, what life was like in the U.S., where he should go.In fact, nobody was looking at Vaidas and was hurrying somewhere. Nobody carried about him the way he dreamed in the plane. As hundreds of people passed him, he remembered how in Vilnius he would wait after school in the bus station and watch at a homeless outcast with a dog, who was begging for alms. Everybody was passing the beggar the same way people now were passing Vaidas, who suddenly felt poor, recluse and
worthless. Now he was a tramp with Ieva next to him, to whom Vaidas was about to give a hug to Ieva for being the best friend in the world, but he bumped into an American man, who appeared to be the head of Vaidas’ sponsor family.

“Hey, my name is Jim Pocock, Jim’as you would say in your language! Ho
ow was your flight?”
“Hello, my name is Vaidas Sinica, Sinika, as you would say in your language.”-slowly mumbled Vaidas forgetting the question. Indeed, Vaidas was still in Vilnius begging for alms, and watching people passing him.
Jim took Vaidas into his car and drove him to his house, asking something about Vaidas family, hobbies, friends on the way. While answering the questions, Vaidas was looking through the window of the car at all the houses, lights in the streets and could not get rid of the feeling that all the good he had he left beyond the seas. He is a homeless person.for the next four years!
Not only did the first part of his dream not come true. By the time Vaidas found that Americans do not live so neat. They throw garbage everywhere they can. Whenever he went to watch a movie, he had to find the way out through the sea of garbage and food bits and pieces. Whatever car he got in was also full of garbage. Vaidas used to like to go to the movies, but not anymore. He got tired from the people who talk with their self phones and bring their children to the mo
ovies, laugh from the scenes, which are not funny and twitch with terror or even scream, when nothing is scary. Another thing that shocked Vaidas was that Americans were not nice and friendly at all. Americans didn’t care about him. They smiled to him only when they were paid. Once Vaidas went to the restaurant
and could not get to the table as soon as he wanted, because he had to spend a half an hour on talking to a doorkeeper, who could not stop asking questions about the Air Force, Lithuania, about his girlfriend and his family. The doorkeeper dared even to share his experience of life with Vaidas, the person, whom the doorkeeper met the first time in his life. Later Vaidas found out that the job of the doorkeeper was not only to open the door to the custom, but to be as nice and friendly as he could.

Vaidas also found that money does not grow on trees in the United States, that people work hard there to earn something.

It’s the first time I’ve run all month and every single part of my body begs to stop and return to warm and comfortable bed. I feel dizzy and I will puke as soon as I finish climbing this hill, but I can’t stop running. It’s the first time I realize why I have never capitulated and gone home when I couldn’t stop thinking about my girlfriend, family, friends and my motherland; why I have never relaxed and stopped struggling to do my best here at the academy when everybody thought that I am deep-dyed and worthless. But wait a minute.Why were we reading so much about Indians and how Americans were killing them? Why did we have to read about Hemon’s expatriation to the United States and then to write something similar about ourselves. Are Americans so bad that professor Santa does not want us to change? Why is the portrait of Karl Marx hanging in his office? I wish I could create the character similar to Nana from Hemon’s “The question of Bruno”, who would give all the answers to my questions, but unfortunately I am not as talented as Alexander Hemon is. I’m not Alexander Hemon. I’m not his Pronek from “The Question of Bruno”, because not only do I have a different experience (I didn’t see brother killing brother, starving and dying people, cities full of terrified and shocked people, blood and terror, I have never been worried about my parents lives.) and my sense of humor is different, but because I also believe that our lives are not an absurd, that the American way of living is meaningful. Yes, there are some things which I don’t like about Americans and which make me sad about being an expatriate in the United States, but I’m happy and proud to be here!
If Hemon called me “fucking American”, I wouldn’t argue a lot with him. I told him that Hollywood stars are also people and they should elegize about their lives, that tiny details make our lives good, such as kind of lettuce or wine we eat and drink in the restaurant, that not all American women are hussies and that a man who expatriate to the United States is not a cockroach!

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