I was murdering time at Borders last night in Shadyside waiting for my brother's car to drag him home from work. I began browsing through books I've been wanting to check out, but of course never seem to get around to doing it just like so many other things.
I moseyed on over to the poetry section but for some reason that didn't interest me last night... not that I frequently read poetry anyway. I kept moseying and came to the literature section. I started going through the author's names alphabetically and I thought of 'On the Road' by Jack Kerouac. There is a 50th anniversary uncensored (of course they couldn't let him express his experiences of being free without first tying him down - it was the 50's - go figure) edition coming out at the end of this year. I've never read the book, but it seemed appealing enough from the little I've read about it.
You see, that's what I seem to do. I read about books more than I actually read the books themselves... or I read their quotes:
*The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!* - On the Road - Ch. 1 - **Jack Kerouac**
I came to the K's and there was Kerouac's work, all lined up nice and neat in its little prison cell bookcase. I came to 'On The Road', dressed in at least 3 or 4 different outfits and fashions. I just grabbed the first one that almost seemed to jump into my hand and took it to a nice little cozy nook and began reading, and I read as if I cared what I was reading, which doesn't really happen that often.
In the first chapter he goes on to describe how he met a guy by the name of Dean M-something or other (not sure of the last name). As I was reading, I began thinking first of all, how does he remember all of this, these descriptive details, pieces of conversations, fleeting moments that usually aren't meant to be remembered even though I guess we sometimes do anyway. He described Dean and another friend Carlos(?) with such respect and admiration, almost as if he was describing Zeus and Apollo and believing they were just given different names. I'm guessing this is because he associated them so closely with the advent of his now immortalized travels contained in 'On the Road and "Lonesome Traveler', and possibly others I'm not aware of.
Anyways, it really invoked memories of my own On-the-Road experience in solitude that is now near forgotten and probably for good reason. I do, however, have one souvenir I took with me from that aimless adventure that I think I share with Kerouac in all of our indescribable (although he does it so very well) and unbridled exuberance... a sense of freedom that is like trying to capture and hang onto a wayward butterfly with a broken net. I spent a thousand years one week in the land of nothing matters and it was like I had briefly discovered eternity. For some uncanny reason though, I chose to care again, to feel again, to hurt (somehow I did hurt without feeling anything - must be a paradox of some stretch of its definition), only in a different way.
I found my way back the long way to where I got the book to return it, and a Borders associate cutting across my path stopped to ask if I was finding everything okay, to which I replied, Yes, I am, thanks', although at the very moment he asked me I really had no idea what I was looking for.
I thought of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, located it, and made my way over to Seattle's Best to buy some form of caffeine to drink. I decided to purchase a small loose leaf tea, chose Earl Grey for no apparent reason I can think of other than I remembered someone telling me it tastes like Fruit Loops.
This time I found a table and began reading the 1st chapter, which by the way, was all I read of Kerouac's journey, which hadn't even actually begun by the end of the chapter - at least not the actual traveling part of it, anyway. Kerouac seemed to be heading north, Plath seemed to be going south, and I'm now almost certain somewhere along the way they meet and fall madly in love.
I didn't even make it through the first chapter of Plath's spiral down to the nethermost region of life when I got the call from my brother. He was on Fifth Avenue, and so I returned the book back to its cell and continued sipping my tea, making my way out to a mean and bitter cold but brisk February kick in the ass by mother nature herself.
We arrived at the entrance of his apartment from opposite directions almost so simultaneously that if I had slowed down to match his pace we would have probably crashed into one another right at the steps leading up to the entrance. We entered, myself shivering with a sense of relief, and the door closed behind us to close the first, and likely only, chapter (a chapter full of holes and missing pieces at best) I'll get around to writing about this night.
I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till i drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion. ~~~>Jack Kerouac
Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing. <~~~Sylvia Plath
…-no girl had ever moved me with a story of spiritual suffering and so beautifully her soul showing out radiant as an angel wandering in hell and the hell the selfsame streets I'd roamed in watching, watching for someone just like her and never dreaming the darkness and the mystery and eventuality of our meeting in eternity. ~~~>Jack Kerouac
Is there no way out of the mind? <~~~Sylvia Plath