a beat writer fan’s cliche…our smoke on the water riff, if you will…where we first alight, find delight and begin our imitations…
“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’” – j.kerouac
but i’m not here today to imitate, or to ruminate on the futures and fantasies this quote inspired behind my shy, collegiate eyes. i’m not writing with the same “Awww” in my throat as when i scribbled it in paint, dead center, on the black sheet of quotes and trippy things that hung in my early ’90s dorm room of disaffection and flannel.
what interests me this morning is the beginning of that sentence…the part i’ve never seen included with these words out of their context…the part i didn’t paint on my black sheep’s black sheet…
“they danced down the streets like dingledodies, and i shambled after as i’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because…”
i’ve always chosen the mad ones. jack described their salience so elegantly, so perfectly analogous to fireworks, like the ones i imagined were for me each july 4th as the nation kicked off its trish birthday festivities in anticipation of the 6th. the mad ones. i’ve hung rapt on their burning words. i’ve wished that my presence would explode like sparkling spiders enough to fill a sky full of stars, or even just a room. i’ve always hoped my blue centerlight would pop one day and the world would say “Awww” at all the love, brilliance, hope and wonder i carry in my heart.
i’ve spent a life shambling. i’ve spent a life feeling the cool cast of a shadow…someone’s shadow, all my days. i’d bet that’s not what people might guess. i’ve learned a lot about how those around me perceived me, my shyness and my life over the years. i was always alarmed and amused when i would learn later about people who were intimidated…the ones who thought i was always outrageous, confident, cool and cold. they were as surprised as i was fascinated when they learned i was a shy, nerdy, soft-hearted dreamer. they don’t know i was the littlest of 7 loud kids. they didn’t guess that i was once the awkward girl at school who got picked on or ignored completely. i went through a lot protecting that dreamer. i kept my tender heart a secret from so many, sometimes on purpose. i’m proud to say she’s made it through with bigger dreams, eyes and sighs than ever.
i used to shamble, but i’m picking up speed.
i always chased those mad ones because i thought i couldn’t be one…one of the people who interests me. i wasn’t interesting enough to others to interest myself. i wasn’t wild enough, free-spirited enough. i danced on peripheries looking for places to jump into the fun, afraid i wasn’t welcome. i felt like a wallflower but played the role badly enough to confuse all but the most perceptive viewers. i became a great sidekick to the loud and living. together we developed complex worldviews in galaxies all our own with our desires and perceptions as lenses. i gave them all the credit for whatever i found interesting in my life. strange then, that i chose so much solitude, moving and working always in new places, seeking my inner dingledodie and another one to play with.
i chose the mad ones as my mates. each time, i believed i was a partner, a mad one, half of a perfect dingledodie pair. sometimes we exploded, but too close to the ground, setting wild fires and hearts ablaze with romantic and destructive abandon. but most times i became the practical one, the grounded girl, the shambler. in the end i’d find myself shambling after the important details left strewn behind my mad one. i’d spend my energy admiring and shambling into trouble, picking up the pieces of our lives, waiting for that blue centerlight that was the fruition of their dreams, mine somehow now a footnote.
these days i’m free. free from the need or desire for shambling. free from the shyness that kept me from lighting my yellow roman candle for a crowd. i’ve picked a mate who seems inspired by my madness and need to burn, burn, burn and never say a commonplace thing (though i know i do more often than not). he does much of my yawning for me, leads with his mind and heart, lives for passion, expresses himself eloquently and honestly and never shambles. he cools and calms me, even as he stokes the fires in my belly, under my ass and in my most desirous heart. he leaves me space and gives me safety as i tap into the heat and beautiful chaos of my centerlight. it’s frightening. i have so much time and energy to devote to fulfilling all of these promises i’ve made to my Self…my excuses for inaction are now thin at best.
jack was a mad one. he describes himself in this most famous of quotes. i wonder if he ever realized he was exactly what he sought, what he loved. i wonder if he had a day where he woke up and realized the shambling was all in his mind. i wonder if he saw that in his whole life he never yawned or said a commonplace thing. i wonder if he ever anticipated that his beautiful and tragic life and poetry would explode across my mind and heart every time i set feet where he set his, or read words he wrote that feel like mine. i wonder if he ever looked up and realized how many shambled after him.
this is a poignant post for me, lacking the wit i love to wield behind my words. but, it is my most outrageous revelation of this brand new year, one of several i’m sure i will stew on as my clock ticks toward 40…as i realize that i am what i’ve loved…as i become more outrageously me…and share it with outrageous you.
may we all live out loud and with passion, my fellow dingledodies…and the self-awareness to feel it.