January 22, 2019

Jack Kerouac's House

This happened quite a few years ago...I just sat in my car in front of an old house once lived in by Jack Kerouac and thought…

how stupid is this?...here I was, I had run out of money and out of ideas as well...there just wasn’t any more water in the well and the water I had conjured up previously wasn’t selling...so when my writing energy is on E, I go to the library to read—I know my stuff is better than most of what I read...at least that’s what I tell myself and probably most other struggling writers tell themselves too...I always felt I had a lot of potential as a writer, but potential is just a word that means you haven’t done anything yet...I couldn’t find anything good or that I hadn’t read before or was interested in reading again...I searched the shelves and found a biography on Jack Kerouac...I had read some of his work and found some of it interesting and some critics kept telling me I should like it, but I didn’t know much about the man himself...where had I been—he was only thee most famous beat writer of all time duh...I started reading about him and damn if he didn’t live that far away from me during one part of his life and mine...it was in a subdivision that I had passed numerous times on my way to my latest unrewarding and underpaying job; some anonymous old subdivision that had seen better days...now if you grew up or live in New York City, or San Francisco, or some other place like that, it probably isn’t a big deal to find out someone famous lived near you...but when you grew up in Obscuretown and are living now in St. Obscuretown, it is...then I got this crazy idea and thought it might be interesting to drive by his old house...so one day on my way to work, I took a side trip over to check it out, not really knowing what I would find—this was as close as I was ever going to get to one of the beat writers; passing by a place where he lived some fifty years ago or so...I drove into the subdivision and I felt like a deranged stalker pursuing some ancient ghost, but later on I learned I wasn’t the first cat who had the same curiosity...it took me a couple of minutes but I found the street and began driving down it...I kept wondering why a guy like that would ever buy a house in a bland subdivision like that one, but then I remembered what I read in his biography and maybe it did make sense after all...ah, there it was!—I slowed down and eventually stopped and all I saw was a typical old Florida concrete block house not unlike the thousands that I had seen before...I took a good look at it...no bells went off, no sudden rush of inspiration...just an old non-descript gray house...there certainly wasn’t anything special about it—so I sat in my car in front of an old house once lived in by Jack Kerouac and thought…a million jigsaw piece thoughts and I imagined him in the living room or one of the bedrooms working on a manuscript while the pine trees in the yard swayed and swished...I drove away...after I left the subdivision and started on my way to work, I began wondering if the people who lived in that house even knew that the most famous beat writer had ever lived there...I would guess someone along the way must have told them...later on, I read where a guy who lived there did and appreciated the fact, so that’s cool...personally speaking, I think it would be a trip to live in a house where a famous person once lived in...I don’t know why...Kerouac himself probably would have mocked my idea and the whole idiotic notion of driving by somebody’s house in an attempt to channel anything that someone else would want to see in print, or just to look at a house like one would look at an artifact in some museum...yet, it was fun to imagine Kerouac stomping around there...coming up with ideas for a book or just watching television and getting wasted in the living room...I almost half expected him to come out of the house wearing his blue plaid shirt and invite me in for some whiskey.

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