Sunday, 14 September 2008

11 September 2008

spent afternoons talking to my mother as she worked on a great ragrug wove of all the clothes in my family for years, which was now finished and spread on my bedroom floor as complex and as rich as the passage of time itself; and then left, two days before I arrived, crossing my path probably somewhere in Pennsylvania or Ohio, to go to San Francisco---of all places in this world---and hunt my missing footsteps there. He had his own life there; Carolyn had just gotten an apartment. It had never occurred to me to look her up while I was in Marin City. Now it was too late and I had also missed Neal. I never dreamed that first night at home I would see Neal again and that it would start all over again, the road, the whirlwind road, more than I ever in my wildest imaginings foresaw. BOOK TWO: It was a year and a half before I saw Neal again. I stayed home all that time, finished my book and began going to school on the G.I. Bill of Rights. At Christmas 1948 my mother and I went down to visit my sister in the South laden with presents. I had been writing to Neal and he said he was coming East again; and I told him if so he would find me in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, between Xmas and New Year. One day when all our Southern relatives were sitting around the parlor in Rocky Mount, gaunt men and women with the old southern soil in their eyes talking in low whining voices about the weather, the crops and the general weary recapitulation of who had a baby, who got a new house and so on, a mud-spattered ’49 Hudson drew up in front of the house on the dirt road. I had no idea who it was. A weary young fellow, muscular and ragged in a T-shirt, unshaven, red-eyed came to the porch and rang the bell. I opened the door and suddenly realized it was Neal. He had come all the way from San Francisco to my sister’s door in North Carolina, and in an amazingly short time because I had just written my last letter telling where I was. In the car I could see two figures sleeping. “I’ll be Gawd-damned! Neal! Who’s in the car?” “Hel-lo, hel-lo man, it’s Louanne. And Al Hinkle. We gotta have a place to wash up immediately, we’re dogtired.” “But how did you get here so fast.” “Ah man, that Hudson goes!” “Where did you get it?” “I bought it with my savings. I’ve been working as a brakeman

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