I’d been traveling now for a few months with my best friend down through southern America with plans to move west and then north. We were two big ideas shooting across the nation like wild flares, drunk with youth and reckless abandon. He and I met when we were young and stayed friends through college, even though we went to different schools. The people we grew up with and around were no small tokens of inspiration and contemplation as we grew into ourselves as men and carved our ideologies from our experiences with love, hate and passion and other things that make you stop and think about who and what you are.
He is a musician. It’s an amazing and really fascinating thing to be born with a natural talent. I say this with confidence because I myself have no musical talent, but I can understand what it must feel like for someone who does. To be able to feel something so powerful and instantly turn it into music or structured lyrics or both is something I’ve always been jealous of, but not maliciously. It was more of a longing. Watching him weave his yearnings with his heartache melodies and seeing his fingers dancing free with the strings of his acoustic auspices through his wild jerks and holy lovemaking was proof to me of God in men. And I knew that everyone had the power to shake the foundations of their souls, but in different ways. I don’t really know what I am yet. In college I wrote and wrote and thought of a lot of things. It’s the best time in your life to think, whether you think things through or not. You can feel yourself changing as a human being. Your opinions start to mean more to you, your identity starts to solidify. I think that’s why I started writing my poetry. It was a response, I think, or maybe a by-product. Whatever it was, was enough of an incentive to bring me here.
We were on the road; sleeping in our car when the weather was bad and out under the stars when it wasn’t. He brought his guitar and harmonica and whatever else was small enough and I brought some notebooks. We were touring the country out of our shitty Ford, except no one knew it. I think the plan was that the whole world would know it by the time we were through, but something tells me we’d settle for anonymity easier than we thought. Sometimes we’d drive for days without performing and sometimes we’d sail into three places in one afternoon, drunk on the sound of The Beatles and The Band. The musician and the poet. I’d think about that almost every night and laugh up at the moon and not stop for whole minutes. It was just the most damned romantic thing you ever heard and we both felt like sons of bitches for embodying such storybook Kerouac bastards. I don’t even like Kerouac. It’s interesting and I think a little sad that these romantic giants colonized the mysticism of the road with their raucous flirtations and pious ramblings of an America destined for change. Imagine the burden of setting off on our gallant journey with the weight of expectation on our shoulders. We contemplated this but soon dismissed it. We had a mission with no real destination and a goal to sing and speak the hymns of our souls. We weren’t here on some pilgrimage of faith or test of our humanity or even because we were looking for adventure, even though we were, I guess. We were standing on the threshold of the rest of our adult lives, whatever that was. Everyone does it, everyone comes to that point when they’re about to cross over. Most people come to it after college, I guess. I don’t know whether or not we chose to postpone it or reject it. But we acted on our gut feelings that have been carefully shaped by years of exposure to events, reactions and heroes.
Everyone has heroes. Those celluloid flirtations that push your soul in the right direction as you grow up, and those literary giants you worship that become the diamond fodder for your humanity. One of the biggest questions I had trouble answering as I was growing up was whether or not it was foolish to adopt my heroes as small elements of my raising and act on them in kind. I don’t think it’s a bad thing and I don’t think it’s a foolish thing. I learned a lot in my college years and I discovered that as you get older, your heroes start to become real people. My friends and family and even people I never got a chance to know. He is a hero of mine and I think I am a hero of his. I don’t think I would have come if he didn’t come with me. We wanted people to listen to his music and hear my words. Who we’ll be at the end of it all is a gift I think we quietly promised ourselves. I think getting there will be fun, but it’s interesting all I’ve learned so far. I think when you’re young and especially when you’re young and restless you always wonder what everyone’s doing. It’s easy to imagine the whole world moving frantically to some awesome destination you only read about in books. What’s interesting is that so far as I’ve been on the road I can see that people do the same thing wherever I go: not very much of anything at all. There are a few hotspots, a few scattered hubs of enlightened activity where volcanic souls simmer and seethe with other beautiful maniacs and sprout plans to change the world. These were the places we looked for and sung our praises to our holy minds in. But in general I see comfort, or an attempt at comfort, and I pick up on a sense of routine. Northerners, southerners, westerners; I see men settled down and dormant, happy and smiling with the things they call their own. And I don’t think it’s sad but it makes me wonder what spurs young souls to tempered madness, what makes time seem like desert echoes and endless flight. I think we have a palate for beauty like we do for taste and I think that it changes as we get older. And that to me is beautiful.
He stirred in his sleep next to me and suddenly I was reminded that I was awake. It was late, or early. I couldn’t really tell. I glanced over at him and saw the man for who he was. He breathed rhythm; his body rose and fell like a gentle metronome, keeping time with the whispers of the wind and the twinkling of the stars. I listened to the sounds of night and thought of the day behind us and the days to come. I thought of the night and how sad it really was. I thought of how old the earth and the sky were and how long they’ve ran parallel to each other, never to meet as one. I thought that everyday when the sky turns to dusk was a feeling, a wish or a promise, a longing for the earth it protects each day. The orange and pink and red were droopy in silent wailing in the twilight as the heat of the earth turned cold. And when the last colors in the sky turned to black there was a defeat of a kind I’ve never felt and a declaration to escape the future for a more wonderful present. I thought of the earth and the sky and to me it was the most beautiful love story that ever was. And I wondered what the sky looked like in Africa or Egypt or the deserts of the world. How it looked mirrored off the water of the Indian ocean or how it played with the colors of foreign grass. I wondered if it had the same tender longing for the heat of the earth to electrify its current and warm its gentle breeze. And suddenly a nervous pink cloud rose slowly above the horizon followed by a steady crescendo of orange light. I sat and looked and watched the world around me grow gallant in the first minutes of the morning. The defeat of night was shrugged off with the confidence of new beginnings and I thought to myself, in the quiet cool morning as the earth began to warm, there’s no stronger love than this.