18 years ago today a PanAm Boeing 747 made it to JFK from Moscow. Among other anxious passengers on board, it carried our family of 4. Me, my wife, my son, who turned 19 while on the plane, and my daughter, a few months shy of her 18.
We did not come to conquer the world, but to live a normal human life. Not to change the way others live, but to change the way we lived. And where was a better place to start it then New York City?
We had $400 and we were poor and hungry (after $400 were gone). But we felt that we had won this million-dollar jackpot, as we were among those lucky who made it here.
While at the airport waiting for clearances of all our immigration papers, I was trying to imagine the world outside this glass Delta Terminal, trying to envision where we were going to be in 2 years, in 3 years, in 5 years.
I did miss all the marks; they were different from what I expected. I soon figured that at 40 I was tabula rasa and I had to start learning life from scratch. The most difficult thing was to leave my prejudices and preconceived notions behind. As others, I was trying to superimpose my previous experience on American reality, and they did not match.
I learned not only to understand English, but I learned (or, better say - learning) to understand the democracy, and this is darn difficult concept to anyone who did not get it with their mothers' milk, to learn the way of living, which I wanted, but did not know.
I am a poor student, and I am still learning. When I came, I was sure I would perfect my English and get rid of my accent. It did not happen. I am OK with it now. And I am OK that I will never graduate this college of living in America. But I am trying to get to an A.
18 years ago today...