When I’m on a vacation, be it a month-long backpacking trip or weekend jaunt, each day I plan to leave a section of Walt Whitman’s Song of the Open Road. I might leave it in a B&B guestbook, tuck a note behind a hotel painting or write it on a dollar bill I spend at a hot dog stand. In any case, I’ll be tracking where I leave the poem here. I call it The Open Road Project. Click on the stanzas below to find out where they’ve been left and track the poem’s progress here.
I spent Christmas and New Year’s in Chicago, land of my birth, home of my history. It was the longest I’ve been back since college and while it was nice to spend so much time with family and friends, I did find myself feeling lonesome for Knoxville by the end of he trip. Chicago is lovely, but it’s cold and expensive and I don’t run into people I know everywhere I go. I’m happy I live in Knoxville, but am thrilled to have a home base in Chicago, which is a fantastic place to visit. I was so busy with running around and meeting up that I failed to leave the poem anywhere except the Drake Hotel, where my friend Jenny took me for a holiday High Tea. I’ve always loved going to tea- I’m a sucker for tiny sandwiches, little pastries and fancy places. I left the 53rd section of the poem tucked creepily close to the crotch of the little naked fountain boy we sat next to.
You shall not heap up what is call’d riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve,
You but arrive at the city to which you were destin’d, you hardly
settle yourself to satisfaction before you are call’d by an
irresistible call to depart