I'm currently working my way through On the Road by Jack Kerouac and I am thoroughly enjoying what for many is the American dream: cross country road tripping. My Brazilian friend is also reading the book and said that he would love to hitchhike across the United States but would never dream of doing something like that in Brazil. Of course, I said. This sort of travel is an American institution. Who doesn't want to see this continent, from sea to shining sea? I know that the need to travel across this place is an itch I someday hope to scratch, and I have always wanted to read this book and the adventures outlined here. And at this point in my life, I feel like I can relate to Sal Paradise as he abandons his day to day life and sets out to see the country. I'm at the point now where he makes it from New York to San Francisco, has run out of money and has to find a job, and when he gets into trouble for not doing exactly what he should on the job he thinks, "he was right; but all i wanted to do was sneak out into the night and disappear somewhere, and go and find out what everybody was doing all over the country" (60).
Me too, Sal, me too.
I love how getting a job to make ends meet for a time becomes part of the adventure, as it has been for me this summer as I take on odd jobs and move about the country, sleeping on couches and just trying to get by until the next chapter of my life begins.
And so, here are some passages I enjoyed tonight as I continued reading On the Road, and expect more to follow as I finish up the book.
"I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was--I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn't scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost. I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future, and maybe that's why it happened right there and then, that strange red afternoon" (15).
"I spun around till I was dizzy; i thought I'd fall down as in a dream, clear off the precipice. Oh where is the girl I love? I though, and looked everywhere, as I had looked everywhere in the little world below. And before me was the great raw bulge and bulk of my American continent; somewhere far across, gloomy, crazy New York was throwing up its cloud of dust and brown steam. There is something brown and holy about the East; and California is white like washlines and emptyheaded--at least that's what I thought then" (71).