On The Road is filled with so many different views and types of travel that it is nearly impossible to not find a message that can connect to one’s own life. Kerouac starts off with a very intriguing observation and question in the beginning of one of his chapters. He says “What is that 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.” (148). I feel like this is an aspect of travel that everyone can relate to no matter where they have been or where they are going. As you are driving away from people that you crossed paths with or know personally, there is something about watching them get farther and farther behind you as you move forward. A moment like this can be very sad, especially if the people who you are driving away from are ones that you care for deeply. On the other hand, it can be a sign of leaving those memories behind while you move onto what is waiting in the future.
I think there are two different ways in which this good-bye moment can occur. The first is the one that is described by Sal in which he is the person that is driving off and leaving people behind. However, another situation is if you are the person who is standing there watching others as they drive away. If you are the one driving off, it may be easier to see this as a form of travel because you are leaving the past and moving into the future. On the other hand, watching someone drive away until you can’t see them anymore symbolizes a new point as well. Things are now different because that person or group of people are gone. In the quote Sal says “ we lean forward to the next crazy adventure beneath the skies” which implies an easy transition in this kind of departure. Saying good bye is never something that is easy to do and some might not be able to move on to that next adventure because they are stuck in the past. Everyone is affected by this moment of separation differently. The key is to use it to your advantage rather than to your disadvantage.
In my own personal life, I have experienced a similar moment of good bye. During my sophomore year of college I learned that one of my best friends was not returning to Loyola for the second semester. I was truly heart broken. Once I finished my last final it was time for me to leave for break and I had to say goodbye to my friend. We walked out to the parking lot while my roommate was packing up the car and getting ready to go. I knew I had only minutes left with this person that I loved so much. What made it even more difficult was that he lived in Chicago and I had no idea if I was ever going to see him again. This feeling of the unknown future added to the pain. This person was someone who I relied on and had since my first day at Loyola. After we had our emotional good-bye, I got into the car and looked out the window. We slowly started the drive away and I couldn’t help but watch as we pulled away. As he slowly vanished from my sight it was as if I was traveling into a new stage of my life. I finally sat back in my seat and looked ahead of me and knew when I returned after break everything would be different. The past memories were being left behind and new ones were to be created. As we drove farther and farther away I traveled through these memories in my mind. The unknown of what school would be like when I got back as well as how I might change as a person was still ahead of me.Sal travels through a variety of adventures throughout the first half of the book. He seems to value the simple things and go with the flow. His observation about seeing the specks of someone dispersing as you drive away is very significant. Not many people openly acknowledge that but rather are just aware of it in their minds. This really is a form of travel, one that takes you from the past into the future. Good byes really do represent a lapse in time and they allow you to reflect on where you have been and where you are going.