It was 22 years ago today. (Or thereabouts. My visa is dated October 23rd 1985.)
The papers for my visa application arrived while I was in Brno. (The most important four weeks of my life were spent on a summer school learning Czech in Brno. I improved my Czech enough to be able to read Kundera, had more money than I could spend, met lifelong friends and found my wife.) J1 visa, I think. Some fiddle it was, thought up by the dodgy agency I worked through. A work experience visa it was supposed to be. We were just plain old ordinary wage slaves. I hope they don't decide to come after me. The agents, I mean. The mafia are pussycats compared to contract agencies.
October 28th 1985. I've just inspected my old passport more closely. That was the exact date I arrived in America for the first time. In Newark. How aposite.
My first beer in America - I can remember it crap - was an Amstel Light, in some soulless midtown bar. A beer that was totally immemorable yet I still recall what it was.
In the 1980's, the British were the IT job tourists. BONY bought in a gaggle of us.
I lived on Staten. In a neighbourhood as dull as dull can be. Where the buses do run, but the streets have no pavements. The looks I got, walking home with my shopping. The Recovery Room was one of my local bars. We played darts there. Me and some of my British workmates. The beer was crap. I drank bottled Heineken.
Darts. British blokes. Beer. Manhattan. In the mid-1980's this spelled "Manhattan Brewery" . Not literally. Obviously.
Our office was downtown. If I hadn't spent the last 30 years boozing every day, I could tell you the exact address. Washington Street, possibly. We could walk to the Manhattan Brewery. Which is exactly what we did. At least once a week. Playing darts was the general excuse. I was glad to have the chance to drink something handpulled.
One night, after the darts, I got to talk to the brewer. I was impressed. He was knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I wonder what happened to him?
This was my first going to America. More happened.
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