Friday, March 30, 2012


I first read On the Road as an impressionable 15-year-old. It changed everything for me. Suddenly, there was a world of possibilities I'd never considered. It gave voice to all the longing I'd never understood. A vehicle for the restlessness that had nipped at my heels. It lit fire to my soul. For the next several years, I lived, breathed, and dreamed anything beat. And the first chance I got to shuck my old skin for a new one, I didn't hesitate. Days after graduating high school, I packed a suitcase, bought a one-way ticket to New Orleans, and with just a few hundred dollars in my pocket, went in search of life and adventure. I wasn't thinking about college, long-term goals, or a secure future. I wanted now, to live in the moment. To "simply be--be--be--."
{from the passage, "Hold still man, regain your love of life and go down from this mountain and simply be--be--be-- the infinite fertilities of the one mind of infinity, making no comments, complaints, criticisms, appraisals, avowals, sayings, shooting stars of thoughts, just flow, flow, be you all, be you what is, it is only what it always is -- Hope is a word like a snow drift--This is the Great Knowing, this the Awakening, this is Voidness -- so shut up, live, travel, adventure, bless and don't be sorry..." Jack Kerouac, Desolation in Solitude}
Originally, a good friend was supposed to go with me but she skipped out at the last minute. I decided right then and there I would never base my decisions on whether I did something or not on anyone else, even if it meant going it alone. I've kept that promise to myself.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't afraid but I was young and naive, an idealistic day-dreamer and romantic. It still astounds me that my parents allowed me to go on my own. But then, it never occurred to me I couldn't. Years later when I asked my father about it, he said, "I couldn't have stopped you." And of course he was right. Even then, I rarely changed my mind once I'd made it. When the plane landed in New Orleans, I lingered for hours at the airport, feeling alone and unsure. For the first time, I was on my own with no one to meet me and nowhere to go. And suddenly I felt very small in a very big world. But eventually, I took an airport shuttle to the YMCA. I figured, if it was good enough for Jack, it was good enough for me. Unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to my romanticized expectations. Not only was the Y on the wrong side of the tracks and a fair distance from the French Quarter, it was also frequently raided by the police at 3 A.M. But it was cheap. I stayed in New Orleans, first at the Y, and then in an attic share near Loyola University, for nearly two months. That's how long it took to decide there was nothing fun or romantic about being broke. So, I had my dad immediately wire me a ticket home. But even if my adventure hadn't panned out quite as I'd imagined it -- what a story I had to tell.

That solo adventure to New Orleans turned out to be the first of many. I've traveled to back roads and far places, from our own beautiful country to most of Europe, India, Nepal, and SouthEast Asia. I think the urge to be and see more is innate within me, but the spark, the possibility of it, was fueled by the pages of On the Road.

So, I'm thrilled that after several unsuccessful attempts there's finally a film. I've got my fingers crossed it doesn't disappoint. Francis Ford Coppola who first bought the film rights back in 1979 hired Brazilian director Walter Salles (The Motorcylce Diaries) and cast Sam Riley to play Sal Paradise, Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty, Kristen Stewart as Marylou, and Kirsten Dunst as Camille. The film's release date is set for this year (2012.)

"It's an anywhere road for anybody anyhow." - kerouac, on the road

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