We’ve been staying here with Mary’s cousin for about a week in El Cerrito. We planned this week so we could catch up, check out the Bay Area at our own pace, and get some well-deserved R&R (often in the form of trash TV). It’s been our home. But, at last the road is calling us away, so we will be heading off to Nevada in the very early morning. Ironically, I feel more behind than ever because I’ve picked up 23 rolls of color and I’ve scarcely had time to scan a fraction of what I had already.
Kerouac’s scroll is true to one aspect of living on the road. It doesn’t stop. You can slow down, but you can’t stop. I have a copy of “The Original Scroll” edition of On The Road, and I can speak to it’s honesty of omitting paragraphs and trucking through the story without pause. The way you read it, you look desperately for the next period and try to place your bookmark in it so you can close the book and rest, but you always end up reading a bit too far, or stopping mid-sentence, or losing your place when you pick up again. I’m doing this now, trying desperately to scan in one more roll of film, packing up so it won’t be too hard to leave, looking out the window at the city beneath us and the red lights of the Golden Gate bridge in the distance. I’m lost. Tomorrow it’s back to fighting off bugs, showering with scorpions, and stopping at gas stations for sustenance.
San Francisco is pretty fantastic. The hills are atrocious; they’re so steep that there are stairs in the sidewalk. The weather is so unpredictable that you must dress for summer and winter at once, because it’s freezing in the shade and unbearably hot in the sun. You will sweat and shiver in the course of walking down one city block, no drugs required. But you can’t beat the home of hippies and beatniks. Maybe it’s just my own projection, but I think the pavements reek of defiance. It’s where protestors go to make love and not war. It’s just, cool. It’s cool in every sense of the word.
That said, I’m ready to leave the (gorgeous) fog behind and find some sunshine. Goodbye California, I’ll be back again soon.