July 1989. I was weathered by late-night cramming for exams and too much beer, trussed up in Doctor Marten boots, red lipstick and an attitude the size of Peru. Soul II Soul and Guns N' Roses were rocking the UK and Margaret Thatcher was ruling it.
Clutching my student exchange work-permit, I boarded a plane to America with my friend, affectionately known as Has Anybody Seen My Organizer? We argued all the way to JFK - we were ready for a summer adventure and he wanted to go to Boston because he'd heard it was cool; I wanted to go to South Carolina because I wanted to spend the summer on the beach.
Upon arrival in Boston, we checked into the youth hostel. With no plans, no jobs and nowhere to live, we hung about. Soon, word spread that the movie theatre up the road needed people fast - Batman was about to open and they were expecting a stampede. Tom, the Manager, opened the door to 8 smelly but eager British students. We all marched in to ask for jobs and he hired us all. We put on white shirts, black elasticated bow-ties and red waistcoats (that matched my lipstick). The boys sold and clipped tickets, the girls served food, drinks and candy. We got to see lots of free movies.
We fooled around and made the place our own for a few months, leaving our customers wondering if they'd suddenly been transported to England by mistake. We quickly adopted bad American accents, purely for popcorn-serving purposes, so we could ask "you want budder on that?" There were mice in the corn sacks, a creepy guy on projectors and relentlessly sticky floors ... but it was a good job. Has Anybody Seen My Organizer? and I made friends with a lovely American guy at the movie theatre, who I shall call BassBoy. We lost sight of BassBoy over the years, which I regret. He was a good friend.
BassBoy had a tall, good-looking friend with a golden tan and deep beautiful eyes: Big G. He was Boston born and bred. Sensitive and shy with a whale-sized passion for music, Big G would meet BassBoy after work so they could go out and party. We became friends. One warm dark night, some of us sneaked over a fence and through a forest to swim in the reservoir near Big G's home. We perched on a rock in the deep deep water under a huge black sky, fish brushing against our toes, and we shivered in the breeze and the knowledge that we weren't meant to be there. We bonded that night, Big G and me, dripping wet and giggling under the stars.
I flew back, moved to London and sent Big G a postcard. He wrote me letters and I wrote back (no email then). In February 1990 he visited London for a week. He came again in July, we looked into each others eyes, and here he stayed.