Hey, Jack Kerouac

you were a serious eyed literature junkie in 1995, you had to work to avoid the Beats. Every coffee house in every town had its own Neal Cassady. You would think he was the next William Carlos Williams. Sadly he he was not. You had to go to Ginsburg for that, but first it would help to learn how to read. Good luck finding someone who could do that.

So you sat and read alone

You learned who liked Junk or Queer and who could recite Kaddish or Howl from memory. Who just carried around On the Road and who could recite the Mad Ones with the right amount of irony and grief. The ones who knew that Karouac was a poet and a damn good one to boot.

One of the brightest stars in my constellation is my identity as a member of Generation X. I will grieve the passing of these days like a war bride grieved the parties of the USO. Back when we were too lazy and irresponsible to accomplish anything, before our younger siblings and cousins swallowed up the generation below us. Before we understood the normalcy of the twelve hour day and inherited the duty to go forth and colonize the workplace.

We wore Mary Janes and drank actual espresso and danced awkwardly in a-line mini dresses. We were mad to live, even if it meant slouching and worshipping Pulp Fiction, Daria, and the prose of the beats.

Ever the contrarian, I didn’t fall headlong into Alan, baby for another couple of years. I spent 1995 with the ex pats, escaping in Paris. With their parent’s generation, buying flowers, listening to Beethoven, and coming to and fro murmuring about Michelangelo, curled up in coffee house after coffee house after coffee house. I read the Beats early and would return to them at 20. When I wondered who expected me to fulfill this travesty of a plan spelled out in Woolf, Forster, and Elliot. Or the ruin of a life in Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Might as well live Parker would drawl.

In 1995, I stretched back and out, rooting myself firmly in my love of a clean well lighted place.

It would take me years to realize I needed to Howl. Another decade to learn how to do it properly.


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