Jack Kerouac went down to Big Sur to escape is demons. He thought some peace and quiet and solitude at Ferlinghetti's cabin would help him to make sense of the pressures of fame and to perhaps clear his alcoholic haze. Sadly, what started out as an exercise in clean living devolved (as was common with Jack) into madness and darkness. The novel Big Sur is what we got out of it. For a man pulled in so many directions by his problems, his prose reflected a mind thinking clear thoughts…and doing it beautifully. How he did it is a mystery to me.
Whenever I read Kerouac, it makes me a little sad, knowing that all of those tremendous and trembling words came through so much loss and pain. It's really a shame when people have to take refuge from a world that asks too much of them. The problem seems to be that when fame comes, it seldom takes 'no' for an answer, and Kerouac wasn't ready to deal with that. I can't say that I blame him.
What amazed me about Big Sur (and I was reminded of this by Holly Hughes' recent review and my resulting viewing of One Fast Move or I'm Gone) was that Kerouac managed to sound a note of hope at the novel's close. He was going to leave Big Sur, see off his recent companion (yet another failed romance), have a visit with Ferlinghetti, and then travel back home…where he knew he belonged.
— I'll get my ticket and say goodbye on a flower day and leave all San Francisco behind and go back home across autumn America and it'll all be like it was in the beginning — Simple golden eternity blessing all —Nothing ever happened—Not even this…
Totally unrelated to Jack Kerouac in almost every way is the fact that me and TheWife™ are in the midst of celebrating our 10th anniversary. We are ensconced in a hotel overlooking the harbor of our favorite city. The view, forward and back, physical and temporal, is mesmerizing. We have been through an amazing amount and variety of experiences (good and bad) over these years. The good stuff has been just that. The bad stuff (and honestly, those who know me know that 'bad' doesn't come close to what really happened) has drawn us close together. In times like that, I look at our marriage as a refuge of sorts. It plays the function of Ferlinghetti's cabin because it has to. If neither of us had that place to go, well, what would that say about our love? Would it even exist?
Yes, it's been ten years and we're looking forward to many more. We have escaped a few demons and have come out all the stronger for it. How we did it doesn't really seem like a mystery. At the end of One Fast move or I'm Gone, Dar Williams is trying to make her way through the above quote, but fails as the beauty of the words overcome her. On most days, that's the way I feel about me and Linda. I can hardly believe it.