Ejaculating new into my eyes
And I wanted to watch her through the window, too see how she reacted when she found the tip we’d left, but I realized that would be cheating and tipping myself instead. So I turned away to give the money to her instead of me.
— [First notebook entry (in blue), re: Japantown, San Jose, Calif.]
We turned off Highway 101 on our way to San Francisco after driving north all day from Los Angeles. It was evening; the sun had dropped just to the right spot where you couldn’t see a goddamned thing at all, and being in unfamiliar territory and in a roadway so crowded with cars, I cowardly turned off at the first exit I saw, which eventually led me to a gas station to fill up again.
I and William the III of Texas (but the senior partner in our Journey to the West) had picked up my car from a parking garage after taking the ferry back from Avalon, Santa Catalina, and then driven through the gorgeous rollingness of California’s Steinbeck country without stopping but admiring the whole time; or at least I admired, because I’d never been this far this way before and it all seemed soft-like and verdant and there was so very much of it ejaculating new into my eyes.
Getting from Alpine, Texas, to Los Angeles, Calif., in what by the watch would be 12 hours had been good doing, in itself. The debauchery and beach-seeings, ocean-vastness of South California were mind-stretching in their own huge way, but narrow, too. For some reason, at the time, I didn’t bother to remark on anything, not really.
It wasn’t until at the gas station in San Jose that I noticed the small stupid nothing of intricate graffiti on the bathroom door and finally determined it was not necessarily so intricate and would be better described as another language; better yet: another language system.
The second small thing was the street lights weren’t street lights like other places but looked to be covered in paper and hanging along wires instead of on top a pole. And I realized at last & stupidly, ‘Oh, this is a Japanese area, isn’t it?’
Because in West Texas, there’s only Asians, really, and like white & black people there, you’re so far removed in time and distance from ancestry that you’re not really anything in particular anymore. And there’s no reason as an Asian to move to West Texas if you aren’t pretty well off and in the medical industry, high up. But you’re not really from anywhere; you’re not Japanese anymore, any more than someone is Swahili or German. It’s damn weird, innit? But then this whole neighborhood, some of it even poor, with some stuff only written in kanji, dig?
Anyway, I think I mentioned this to Will, and I said I’d never had any sushi, mainly out of concern of living so fucking far from any real ocean and being worrisome about the freshness of raw fish trucked 500 miles for my benefit, and either he or I having spotted a sushi place among numerous thought it might be a worthwhile idea because, he said, it tasted so damn good on the West Coast. And I was in the Land of New Shit, and not generally inclined to be afeared of eating anything not outright poisonous.
So we went whatever place it was, and it seemed good, and the service was good, and the girl who had served us was relatively young and pretty and I think even though I was still all sober and had something of a girlfriend, I was terrible in love with she whom I’d never see again & who never would think a second thing of me & whom I don’t remember myself at all except for her short moment as Avatar of Woman in my life.
Between the two of us, Will and I tipped the girl $40 on a less than $50 tab. I walked out wanting to buy a smile and satisfaction on a pretty girl’s face for $20, but decided ag’in it in the end, thinking it the more noble thing to do at the time.
Then I went in the car and wrote that down, and it’s the first thing in the first notebook that started all of this nonsense. That was more than three years ago.