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On the Road book cover
On the Road › Quotes

On the Road Quotes

Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.
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.
The best teacher is experience and not through someone's distorted point of view.
I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.
Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk — real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious.
I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, our actual night, the hell of it, the senseless emptiness.
I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was - I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn't scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.
because he had no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, keep rolling under the stars...
Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.
Sal, we gotta go and never stop going 'till we get there.' 'Where we going, man?' 'I don't know but we gotta go.
But why think about that when all the golden lands ahead of you and all kinds of unforseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you're alive to see?.
We agreed to love each other madly.
What do you want out of life?" I asked, and I used to ask that all the time of girls. I don't know," she said. "Just wait on tables and try to get along." She yawned. I put my hand over her mouth and told her not to yawn. I tried to tell her how excited I was about life and the things we could do together; saying that, and planning to leave Denver in two days. She turned away wearily. We lay on our backs, looking at the ceiling and wondering what God had wrought when He made life so sad.
I just won't sleep," I decided. There were so many other interesting things to do.
I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future.
Sure baby, mañana. It was always mañana. For the next few weeks that was all I heard––mañana a lovely word and one that probably means heaven.
Better to sleep in an uncomfortable bed free, than sleep in a comfortable bed unfree.
LA is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities; NY gets god-awful cold in the winter but there's a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets. LA is a jungle.
His friends said, "Why do you have that ugly thing hanging there?" and Bull said, "I like it because it's ugly." All his life was in that line.
...we all must admit that everything is fine and there's no need in the world to worry, and in fact we should realize what it would mean to us to UNDERSTAND that we're not REALLY worried about ANYTHING.
I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till I drop. This is the night, what it does to you.
As we crossed the Colorado-Utah border I saw God in the sky in the form of huge gold sunburning clouds above the desert that seemed to point a finger at me and say, "Pass here and go on, you're on the road to heaven.
There was nothing to talk about anymore. The only thing to do was go.
The road must eventually lead to the whole world.
Besides which, she would never understand me because I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till I drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.
all I wanted to do was sneak out into the night and disappear somewhere, and go and find out what everybody was doing all over the country.
It was a rainy night. It was the myth of a rainy night.
Her little shoulders drove me mad; I hugged her and hugged her. And she loved it. 'I love love,' she said, closing her eyes. I promised her beautiful love. I gloated over her. Our stories were told; we subsided into silence and sweet anticipatory thoughts. It was as simple as that. You could have all your Peaches and Bettys and Marylous and Ritas and Camilles and Inezes in this world; this was my girl and my kind of girlsoul, and I told her that.
And I said, 'That last thing is what you can't get, Carlo. Nobody can get to that last thing. We keep on living in hopes of catching it once and for all.
I didn't know what to say. I felt like crying, Goddammit everybody in the world wants an explanation for your acts and for your very being.
Prison is where you promise yourself the right to live.
I had nothing to offer anybody, except my own confusion.
I was suddenly left with nothing in my hands but a handful of crazy stars.
No matter what you do it's bound to be a waste of time in the end so you might as well go mad.
I want to marry a [guy], so i can rest my soul with [him] till we both get old. This can't go on all the time-- all this franticness and jumping around. We've got to go someplace, find something.
I was having a wonderful time and the whole world opened up before me because I had no dreams.
Life is life, and kind is kind.
Why think about that when all the golden land's ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you're alive to see?.
It seemed like a matter of minutes when we began rolling in the foothills before Oakland and suddenly reached a height and saw stretched out ahead of us the fabulous white city of San Francisco on her eleven mystic hills with the blue Pacific and its advancing wall of potato-patch fog beyond, and smoke and goldenness in the late afternoon of time.
...but I preferred reading the American landscape as we went along. Every bump, rise, and stretch in it mystified my longing.
You guys are going somewhere or just going?.
But they need to worry and betray time with urgencies false and otherwise, purely anxious and whiny, their souls really won't be at peace unless they can latch to an established and proven worry and having once found it they assume facial expressions to fit and go with it, which is, you see, unhappiness, and all the time it all flies by them and they know it and that too worries them no end.
She spoke of evenings in the country making popcorn on the porch. Once this would have gladdened my heart but because her heart was not glad when she said it I knew there was nothing in it but the idea of what one should do.
I never saw such crazy musicians. Everybody in Frisco blew. It was the end of the continent; they didn't give a damn.
Dean's California--wild, sweaty, important, the land of lonely and exiled and eccentric lovers come to forgather like birds, and the land where everybody somehow looked like broken-down, handsome, decadent movie actors.
...most of the time we were alone and mixing up our souls ever more and ever more till it would be terribly hard to say good-by.
The whole universe was crazy and cock-eyed and extremely strange.
Man, wow, there's so many things to do, so many things to write! How to even begin to get it all down and without modified restraints and all hung-up on like literary inhibitions and grammatical fears...
I could hear everything, together with the hum of my hotel neon. I never felt sadder in my life. LA is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities; New York gets godawful cold in the winter but there's a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets. LA is a jungle.
Go moan for man. It's the pathos of people that gets us down, all the lovers in this dream.
Somewhere along the line I knew there'd be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me.
And then we’ll all go off to sweet life, ‘cause now is the time and we all know time!.
Something, someone, some spirit was pursuing all of us across the desert of life and was bound to catch us before we reached heaven. Naturally, now that I look back on it, this is only death: death will overtake us before heaven. The one thing that we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced (though we hate to admit it) in death.
When you start separating people from their rivers, what have you got? Bureaucracy!.
The bus roared on. I was going home in October. Everybody goes home in October.
She was a nice little girl, simple and true, and tremendously frightened of sex. I told her it was beautiful. I wanted to prove this to her. She let me prove it, but I was too impatient and proved nothing.
We fumed and screamed in our mountain nook, mad drunken Americans in the mighty land. We were on the roof of America and all we could do was yell, I guess--across the night...
Nevertheless we understood each other on all levels of madness...
Last night I walked clear down to Times Square & just as I arrived I suddenly realized I was a ghost - it was my ghost walking on the sidewalk.
It made me think that everything was about to arrive - the moment when you know all and everything is decided forever.
Dean took out other pictures. I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered, stabilized-within-the-photo lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, or actual night, the hell of it, the senseless nightmare road. All of it inside endless and beginningless emptiness.
Besides, all my New York friends were in the negative, nightmare position of putting down society and giving their tired bookish or political or psychoanalytical reasons, but Dean just raced in society, eager for bread and love.
We wandered in a frenzy and a dream (301).
I was a man of the earth, precisely as I had dreamed I would be.
In those days he really didn't know what he was talking about; that is to say, he was a young jailkid all hung-up on the wonderful possibilities of becoming a real intellectual, and he liked to talk in the tone and using the words, but in a jumbled way, that he had heard from 'real intellectuals.
The bus roared through Indiana cornfields that night; the moon illuminated the ghostly gathered husks; it was almost Halloween. I made the acquaintance of a girl and we necked all the way to Indianapolis. She was nearsighted. When we got off to eat I had to lead her by the hand to the lunch counter. She bought my meals; my sandwiches were all gone. In exchange I told her long stories.
But then they danced down the street like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars...
They spent all week saving pennies and went out Saturdays to spend fifty bucks in three hours.
In my madness I was actually in love with her for the few hours it all lasted; it was the same unmistakable ache and stab across the mind, the same sighs, the same pain, and above all the same reluctance and fear to approach.
I pictured myself in a Denver bar that night, with all the gang, and in their eyes I would be strange and ragged and like the Prophet who has walked across the land to bring the dark Word, and the only Word I had was 'Wow!.
Marylou was watching Dean as she had watched him clear across the country and back, out of the corner of her eye--with a sullen, sad air, as though she wanted to cut off his head and hide it in her closet, an envious and rueful love of him so amazingly himself, all raging and sniffy and crazy-wayed, a smile of tender dotage but also sinister envy that frightened me about her, a love she knew would never bear fruit because when she looked at his hangjawed bony face with its male self-containment and absentmindedness she knew he was too mad.
This was a manuscript of the night we couldn’t read.
What is he aching to do? What are we all aching to do? What do we want?.