(Note: I’m sort of at an impasse right now in regards to whether I should call this fiction or nonfiction. Most of it is true; but you have your lies and your exaggerations. It almost seemed more honest to include them, because it better communicated what I was feeling to a reader than the limited nature of what DID happen. But I feel dishonest calling it complete “nonfiction.”)
Sitting in My Brother’s Bar, Noah and I were experiencing pilgrimage. Everyone else was just annoyed. It was 8 in the morning and we had taken a detour into Denver, extending a seventeen-hour drive for a chance to sit in a booth that once hosted The Beat Generation.
Jared drank a Coke and Alec drank iced tea. Eli got away with ordering whiskey. Noah and I didn’t drink anything, except for the air that had once touched Neal Cassady and the realization that we had finally run away.
After a year of being bored and worshipping iconoclasts, we were restless enough to take off to the west. We painted “we’re lost, don’t find us,” on the side of my car and then filled it with five people and two weeks worth of luggage. Noah had family east of Denver and they had a cottage in Rockies. We had money left over from graduation and friends who wouldn’t refuse a vacation. We were hoping that the mountains would change our lives, or at least, change the way we’d been living them.
The plan was to meet his family for a day, and then take off for Arches in Moab, Utah. We had rented a pueblo and we thought we’d live with the red rock for a while. After a week in the desert, we’d find our way to the mountains. I had never seen mountains before.
Talking in a bar where they celebrated Cassady’s birthday, sitting in the chair where Allen Ginsberg once sat, I was drowning in unabashed poeticism. Caught up in the atmosphere, Noah and I decided to cheapen our trip to metaphor. We casted ourselves Beat Writers, floating back On the Road after 60 years away from it all.
“Eli is Cassady,” said Noah immediately, watching the boy get up for another drink.
We certainly idolized him enough.