“Me drunk practically all the time to put on a jovial cap to keep up with all of this but finally realizing I was surrounded and outnumbered and had to get away to solitude or die—” Jack Kerouac, Big Sur, c. 1961
The late Kerouac and I have had much in common, though he was a socialite—by nature, writers are solitary souls. But the boozing, the women, the loose carousing with strangers in strange places—what was all of that? Here, for Jack nearly a half-century ago, it was but a rural respite.
Shrill of crickets, muted surf, crackle and hiss of a smoky campfire—this was an October night in south Monterey, darkness dissolved by the waxing moon, filtered between boughs of pine and twisted cypress.
After dinner, with pen and paper, I was drunk but indeed working, wearing my jovial cap, much like Kerouac when he visited his friend in Bixby Canyon, thirty-five miles north of my grassy campground. Writing in a seaside forest on a cold mid-week night harkens back to an era of different auras, like Kerouac’s in 1961, with red wine and damp air holding thoughts and focus to ground level. For a coast that welcomes four million annual visitors, there is immense value to such peace.