In about three weeks I’ll be packing up the Nissan and heading south. (Reminds me of the John Hiatt song – “Come on Baby Drive South” – Love that song!) My destination is the Jack Kerouac house in Orlando’s College Park neighborhood. A few month’s ago I was honored to be awarded the Writer-in-Residence position at the Jack Kerouac Project. I plan to be there, writing and reading and conducting workshops through early August.
Beginning on June 1, I’ll be living in the house that Jack built. Well, actually, the house that On the Road built. Kerouac’s home in Orlando is where he and his mother lived after the success of On the Road. Kerouac wrote The Dharma Bums in this house in a small back bedroom. Although On the Road is Kerouac’s iconic masterpiece, “Bum” may be my favorite of his works.
When I was awarded the residency, one of the organizations of project and foundation that cares for the Kerouac house warned me it would be “hotter than hell” down there in the summer. I don’t mind. Bring it on. I’m living in Kerouac’s place! Besides, during the renovation of the home organizers figured they better put air conditioning in even though it was not part of the original home. Good thinking. Good for me.
I am currently working on a project related to a Kerouac-inspired trip I took with my two teenage boys a few years ago. So, even though it may seem a little contrived to be working on a manuscript loosely connected to Kerouac in Kerouac’s house, it honestly isn’t. Truly, it’s a coincidence. When I applied for the residency, I never mentioned the project in the form it’s now taking. But, I must say, it’s kind of uniquely coincidental that this writing project and this residency came together this way. Fate?
I decided to drive to Orlando from Chicago, giving me some flexibility for travel while I’m in Florida. And from my calculations on MapQuest, I’m figuring a two day drive, stopping somewhere in Tennessee for some shut eye. Seems appropriate to take a road trip to get to Kerouac’s house, right? A plane? That really wouldn’t be true to the process, now would it?
I hope to keep a blog while I’m in Orlando, updating any and all who are interested in my stay there. I hope you’ll join me – even if it’s in cyberspace – for a very unique experience.
Maybe I’ll run into Jack’s ghost while I’m there. Who knows.