On Wedensday, I’m flying to New York City. This is the first time I’ve ever been to the USA (if you exclude a couple of hours chasing a bag and waiting amid the Spanish babble of Miami airport workers, to later rise in a pink Caribbean evening, watching baseball triangles recede).

So here I am awaiting that New Jersey countryside, canvas for so many Saves the Day songs and university movies; those brick walls in smokestack towns, backdrop to a basement show or some Kevin Smith teenage parkinglot evening of the early 90s; Kerouac’s road all the way from Ozone Park to San Luis Obispo, and the silent lanes of mystery Appalachia. These tiny things, the stuff I studied (the library East and old world grandeur versus the great moving West of possibility, exception, and discovery), all the cliché America, and all the things I can’t imagine I’ll find.

My vague, vague plan is to hitchhike out West via Chicago, and later follow the Pacific Coast from Seattle downwards. Easy! I’ve been gazing at a huge double-sided chart from a Baedeker guide, looking at the red marker-pen trajectories of Intestate lines over folds and folds of map, tracing the first ‘On the Road’ trip over North Platte and Cheyenne and Denver, but I still don’t have a route. Let’s see first how easy this thumbing business is, and then let’s see where the drivers are going. I’ll try and find  a pocket-sized Rand McNally Atlas at a bookshop in New York, and probably catch a subway train to the dead end of the line, like in London, like in Madrid.

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