What did I have in dead-end beyond-the-cemetery Wellington, the parents, the vacuum, dry brown fields, small keg parties on country roads, at places with names like Beercan Tree. And now, I still go back these many years later and get smacked with the ankle chains of gender roles, of alcoholism, small town football, everyone knows everyone, poetry hides in the eye crags of old timers who refuse to give up their secrets.
What was there for me except a column of flapping straitjackets, hanging out at the Kwik Shop, couch-surfing and watching that same old Kansas sun come up over a grey and barren land–they say farmland but in all that alleged abundance there were no fertility rites of gathering around candles and reciting poetries from our deepest longings–not even the occasional conversation.
Mom and Dad the wardens, me the 11-year-old parent of brothers, itching, itching, growing toward the light of being, something beyond the same old wagon ruts, the gross misogyny, the racism, the economics like tongue depressors, leaving everyone gagging and gaping. Yes, I had to.
When I heard about The Road, did I have any other choice. It was the only way to taste it–college and upward class mobility were not in the cards, not on the table, the only way was pilgrim-style, ragamuffin-style, hand-to-mouth penniless pauper poet-style. And in my bag were journals and holy books of Beatnik writing and I was sure the magic would be all around me, would be easy for the plucking and the feathering, I could wear it like a hairstyle, a commonplace coat, like a book, open pages, Page of Wands and The Fool, I jumped off the cliff and poetry rose up to meet me.
Yes I had to do it I was fleeing demons just like all those other kids, fleeing my parents, abuse, my town, oppression, my queerness, the overburdensome weight, responsibility not mine. It was my reclaimed girlhood but also tainted by that wash of poison–and now I know I say honey you were trying to wash with poison, mucking up, mocking up what a carefree young adulthood would look like. On the Road. But Jack hallucinated from delerium tremens before his eventual death from internal bleeding due to alcoholism, it’s all laid out in that book Big Sur.
I wanted freedom and does it always have to have such a tragic edge. I wanted everydayspectacular, I really saw us, saw bums as angels, like Allen Ginsberg talking about angel-headed hipsters (I saw halos). I related to this so much more than the Sid Vicious/Johnny Rotten stuff I had been exposed to. A certain purity, or the search for it anyway–saintliness, saltiness, salt of the earth, how it all looked from the ground, so much more a comfortable position than I imagine the top to be.
I’m afraid of heights. Took me a long time to get over my fear of flying, in airplanes or otherwise.