Somewhere along the line I knew there'd be girls, visions, everything;
Somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me ...
— Jack Kerouac, 'On the Road', 1957

Hitting the Road

Jack Kerouac as drawn by David Levine
Jack Kerouac

By the late 1980's the cross-country trip with the backpack full of vague notions of enlightenment through travel were very much out of fashion — Kerouac's 'Rucksack Revolution' had come and gone. I was not looking to follow a trend or to chase the ghost of the Beats though — the urge to see over the next hill has been around since there were people to see over those hills. There was the pull of the land to my West, and there was also the pull of experiencing myself in other places.

When I had last been out on the road in Ireland I had stepped back from making a leap into the unknown. I instinctively knew that I was not ready to fly like that. I stepped back, came home, and dug deep into myself. Two years later I felt like I was a changed person and could make that leap, but I would never know if I stayed in Portsmouth. The door to the west was now open and it was time to step through it.