“the next crazy venture beneath the skies”
The following three-part post will be a guest post by my dear college friend, Amanda Hornick. Hornick hails from Blue Springs, MO, and is one of the most magnetic and hilarious people I know to-date. And she always has a good story…
Although I cannot pinpoint with any certainty the exact date, I remember many days ago picking up a weathered copy of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road from a stack of what I’m sure were other fantastic books. I flipped open the cover and discovered what I consider to be some of the most beautiful prose ever written by one of the first people I always think of when asked that silly get-to-know-you question, “If you could have dinner with any person, alive or dead, who would it be?” Although, truth be told, I’d rather share a bottle of Johnny Walker Red (seems more Kerouac-esque, if you will), but that’s beside the point.
Highlighted within my personal copy of On the Road are several lines that I often reflect on with a sense of awe that someone else could perfectly articulate and record my thoughts. It never fails that, upon rereading said lines, my eyes water and a tightness forms in my stomach, as though my jeans are two sizes too small or I’ve eaten an entire Thanksgiving turkey at one sitting (sans Thanksgiving pants, a la Joey from “Friends”). The tears and tightness aren’t brought on by gluttony or sadness, but rather by the fondness for people in my life who (for whatever length of time they actually occupied my physical presence) changed me forever, and a melancholy ache for their presence again. Kerouac writes:
“A pain stabbed my heart as it did every time I saw a girl I loved who was going the opposite direction in this too-big world… what is the feeling when you’re driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? It’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
I found myself reflecting on this passage again recently after completing a 14-day Outward Bound canoeing trip through the Florida Everglades. The experience as a whole- the highs, the lows, the crazy food- is a story in and of itself, and one that I am more than willing to share with you over a pot of coffee (or a bottle of Johnny Walker Red) anytime. However, in order to stay somewhat on track with what I’m wanting to say within this post, I think what’s most important for you to know is that I experienced those 14 days with 11 other people that I will never forget, and that I love in some ways more than I love people I’ve known my entire life.
You know that corny quote, about people leaving a footprint on your heart, and you are never, ever the same? It may be sickeningly sweet and all-too-appealing for emo 13-year-old girls to write in yearbooks, but it’s true. Driving towards the airport and away from our south Florida bubble, I felt the too-huge world thrusting me away from a place I never wished to leave and back into the abyss of uncertainty. Yet, at the same time, my heart leapt with joy for the journeys that lay ahead for my comrades- and me.
This is not the first time that this has happened to me…