The Girl Who Loves Books: On the Road with Kerouac
I wonder when exactly I left the happy, safe and comfortable country of children’s books and went to a country that I never knew, namely the country of adult books, and with which book did it start first? I cannot answer this. But I remember very well that I wanted to declare my independence as soon as I entered puberty.
“i will never get married”, I would write in my diaries. “I will travel, I will go to the desert, I will be a lizard singing for cacti.“I had an unbearable longing for the road, a passion for freedom, an insatiable desire to go. Strange things were happening at home, my parents were divorced, and when I was alone my only friends were books.
I was filled with anger that I did not know where and to whom to direct it. I was never able to express my energy, never raised my voice and could not even be sure that I had my own voice. At the request of my parents, I started seeing a psychotherapist. Every time he told me that I should “choose to be myself” or “love myself more”, I answered him the same way: “Okay, but I don’t know who I am!”
Along with discovering adult books, I also discovered that each author has a unique voice. It was a big discovery for me because I thought I didn’t have a voice of my own and maybe one of these writers could lend me their voice. But I did not want to speak in the voice of a writer. Although I did not know any of the writers, I had a very definite, conservative and ruthless opinion about them. I found them weak, painful, and excessively “crying”.
Even then I knew that I wanted to be a writer. But I wasn’t going to be like those women writers who keep whining. “Who are they?”, I would have kept silent, but I knew that I was right. For me it was a matter of life and death. It was a philosophy of life. It was stubborn and naive and childish, like screaming that she would never marry. No, I wouldn’t be one of them. But then who will I be?
Maybe what I was passionately searching for was also looking for me somewhere. When I finally met him, the worlds were mine. His name was Jack Kerouac, he was the coolest and most handsome member of the beat generation, and what’s more, he was someone I could borrow his voice from. In the end, I refused to be a woman or read women writers. Kerouac was exactly the man I was looking for, as he excluded the feminine and exalted masculinity.
Yes, at that time I believed that something huge, adventurous, crazy was written in my destiny. I was neither a woman nor a man, I was someone else. I did not even realize that this attitude of mine was extremely common among young girls and was actually caused by my anger at my mother.
However, although I did not want to admit it, every day I grew more and more and turned into a living woman. I was on my period, my boobs were peeking out from under the loose T-shirts I wore, and I had an irresistible interest in handsome men, especially my teachers.
However, I realized a very painful truth: the beat generation was a group of strong-willed, courageous men, and because of my gender, I would never be free and safe enough to hitchhike on the roads or sleep in the parks alone like them. The only freedom I was given was to light incense in my room, lie down on my single bed and read their books.
I did also. When I was fourteen and fifteen, I read like crazy about writers of the Beat generation. I especially loved Kerouac. Satori in Paris, Solo traveler, On the road… “I want to be a traveler, travel the world with my backpack”I wrote. “Stuffing my pockets with African masks, shells, mysterious stones and silver rings…”
I kneaded myself with her words, sculpted this new female statue from clay, like Pygmalion with her books, and then slowly fell in love with this statue and, as in the myth of Pygmalion, I sat and waited for the statue. come alive. I did not yet know that my own words would be the talisman capable of bringing the statue to life, and that in order to find my own words, I must first of all read women writers.
No, there was more to all of this. I discovered women writers a long time ago and indirectly reconciled with my mother, made myself a writer, revived the statue … And above all, because in those two long, painful and glorious years with him, Jack Kerouac saved my life.
Thanks to him, I set off on the road, I myself was on the road. I was able to taste the privileged “tramp” life given to men, even in my sleep, and let this imaginary experience transform me. Most importantly, I learned that every journey is actually an inner journey.
When I grew up and returned to the happy, safe and comfortable land of children’s books, I became a writer and had my own voice.
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