THE OLD HOUSE ON BAY AVENUE
I slept in the anteroom because the bed was there and early in the morning while still in bed the freight train would rattle by just across the dirt fields, cycloned by blackberry brambles. When the roar of the engines died, I would gradually hear robins or sparrows chirping and singing. Those days I was 21 and 22 and I didn’t need coffee or strong tea to wake up yet and I would linger in bed relishing the morning deliciously because my strength was still in my brain and my eyes and limbs were good and young though my loins were still virgin and it was to be another 3 years before I have my first sexual experience with an older married woman from Aberdeen.
For now group and ring theory filled my head and no one has licked the Pacific Rim of my cock yet. I had many women and girl friends and I mean just Platonic friends because I made friends easily and I was not a threat to them; I did not demand sex, though a few would really want to initiate me. I was that shy. I remember Reed who taught me how to kiss in my car before I went down to Eugene to attend the University of Oregon and maybe the trouble was that it had started with Eileen. I will talk about that in a little bit. That was my first frost in the telephone booth, but in retrospect, I still love her, because she came back to me twenty years later and made it up to me.
Well, let me continue with the story on Bay Avenue then.
More than anything it was a time of reading. In the summer I worked for Kerns Desoto furniture factory, a mill just a few blocks down in Hoquiam. There was not much to say about that. It was just a summer job and all they demanded was that I didn’t eat in the lunch room because there were a couple of girls worked there in the wood lathes and they liked me or I mean they probably just looked at me and found me a Chinese curio, and so the red necks gave me these mean stares. The tension was so thick that I went outside and leaned about the building with its weeds and wild flowers and all to eat my sandwich and apple by myself. Nobody spoke to me and I didn’t give a shit. I paid my union dues and they needed some robot to sort the wood as it came out of the saw. I discarded the pieces with the worm holes and stacked the good pieces on a pallet eight hours a day. And when I went home I took a short nap with the sawdust still in my lungs and then my brain was so clear that I read Herstein’s Introduction to Abstract Algebra like it was nobody’s business. How I loved that mathematical realm then.
On Saturday mornings I would drive to the Highway Grocery early in the morning and get a bottle of Mogen David blackberry wine and a yellow pad of legal paper and tried to write something. That summer when I was twenty-two I bought a Writer’s Market and daydreamed that someday I will be a writer. But all I need essentially was to drink enough blackberry wine so that I felt mellow enough so that went the emerald light flooded through the bedroom window (I had moved into the back bedroom by then; it was a two-bedroom house), the unnamed tree in the backyard with its foliage and closure silhouetted itself upon the window I was transported to leagues under the sea. The world was dense and its mysteries began to beckon to me. I had also studied philosophy with John Wisdom by this time. But I didn’t know how to write worth beans. But at least in a small town, I was not anomic. I was the son of Bill and Kim Woon, restaurant owners of the Hong Kong Café on Simpson Avenue. Everyone called them Mamason andPapason. But they were neither. They are as Chinese as Chinese can be, for those who know the difference between Chinese and Japanese. I was the Hong Kong Kid, as known to Dixie Wilcox’ parents. Dixie and I were secretly in love, but neither one of us made any attempt to make it happen in the real world. Later when I worked for the Aberdeen Post Office, I could have asked Dixie out for a date, but I was like a sojourner in a temporary land. I never felt I belonged. The freight train was always going by and it never stops and I sometimes fancy that hoboes were on it wishing they could get off and I wished that I was on it – with destination Bangor Maine.