I tell this story all the time, but when I got to the United States in 1968, we were in the middle of one of those historic, crushing times. The Vietnam War. The Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were both assassinated that year. The Manson family. The Zodiac Killer. Riots at the Democratic National Convention.
For the first year after I moved here, it seemed like everything was happening at once.
But do you know what my clearest memories of that time are? It’s bodybuilders showing up at my new, tiny, barren apartment to bring me plates, silverware, a small black and white TV, a transistor radio, pillowcases, bedsheets, and furniture because they knew I had nothing but my gym bag. It’s being invited to their families’ homes for holiday meals. It’s spending a weekend sleeping on the grass in a park with friends in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco. When I do remember the big evening news of that time, my memories are about my friend Artie translating the speeches and headlines for me and helping me learn English.