An old high-school pal recently visited while he was in town. He'd planned to stay for the night, and while we drank whiskey, I started to entertain the idea of letting him sleep in my bed and seeing where things went. We were in my bedroom, and he was thumbing through my Ginsberg and Brautigan books, when he said, "You got a lot of Beats, but where's your Kerouac?"

"I actually own On The Road, but... I don't know. I don't really expect to read it again," I replied. This floored him, and he went on to lecture me about what exactly I was missing out on by leaving On The Road in the dust.

"That book ignited some flare in me to never live a tepid life, to constantly explore and advance myself. Even if sometimes that means degrading myself. I think it may be the reason I'm never going to get married and have children."

I winced. Really? A book written by an alcoholic is why you don't want a wife and kids?

He continued, "I want to experience as much as I can in uncomfortable places, or at least places outside of my comfort zone."

I silently wondered if my humble bedroom was one of those uncomfortable zones. "I actually have part of a quote from On The Road tattooed on me," he said, pulling up his pant leg. 

I stopped reading at "The only people," and he and his tattoo slept on the couch.

 

So, maybe I'm not a fabulous yellow roman candle burning quickly across the heavens. But, you know what else burn burn burns fast? Chlamydia, like the kind you get from worldly travelers without insurance policies. Same with the romance of transience, or a junkie's need for purely novel experiences. It gets old, because there's no depth to wandering. For true experience, or value in really anything, you've got to put in the time, not just breeze through and write a run-on sentence about it.

I understand vacations, a need for soul-searching, and Thoreauvian respites, but I don't understand a twenty-eight-year-old with Peter Pan syndrome hitchhiking to Burning Man and texting me on his mom's family plan.  I've dated enough men to know I'm better off listening to men's actions and not their words. If a place can't hold their fascination, how could I? Soon enough, I'll just be another dot in the rearview mirror as they search for other towns. Not even "better" towns, just... other ones.

I want a man to hold me every night, to have concrete desires, and to hold expectations for my accountability. I don't want a man running around looking for a pearl to be handed to him in every new place, by every new girl. There's something childish about hanging on to a dissatisfaction with stability. Like Catcher in the Rye, like Jane Eyre, there should an expiration date on not our appreciation of, but our direct identification with a great bildungsroman.

Maybe I can't tolerate masculine idealism or the writer as American myth (though, hey, I do love me some Walt Whitman). But isn't there something shallow about a romantic partner constantly searching for external stimulation from life? I want a man who is confident enough in himself to make his own satisfaction with life, and not believe fairy tales of a better life just over the horizon. I want a guy on his own road and one who's ready to make his own footprints, not walk through someone else's. 

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