“The Road is Life” – Jack Kerouac
As a young man I became infatuated with Jack Kerouac. I know it is a hipster standard to claim that On the Road changed your life and that everyone dreams of backpacking across America. The book didn’t change my life because it was the life I had already lived for a very long time. My father joined the U.S. Army the year I was born. I never lived in one place for more than 3 years growing up. By the time I read On The Road I had already been to more states and countries than Kerouac. Yet, while I had traveled, I hadn’t traveled and experienced the world the way Kerouac had.
At the age of 14 my experience with “seeing the world” had been mostly dictated by my parents and the government. Living in Europe at an age I barely remember. My view of the United States obstructed by a backseat child-safety window on our trips to visit family for vacation (most folks in the military don’t go on vacation as much as they go home to visit their relatives). As far as I was concerned the United States was farm land dotted with the occasional oasis of gas stations and truck stops which were really just for relieving yourself and refilling petroleum or soda. So while the idea of traveling was nothing new to me this odd thing that Kerouac described seemed so exotic and alluring. At my naive age I was determined to get out of high school as quickly as possible and embark not to college but on my journey. An epic journey. A journey worthy of the great American novel I would write. Then I decided to join the Army.