It was three months into my solo road trip when I grew genuinely scared. I’d been pitching my tent across the country, but I had rolled into Bar Harbor, Maine, on July 4 only to discover all the campgrounds and hotels were full. Wouldn’t you know: The grand celebration of our freedom left me with nowhere to stay. So I parked my car in Acadia National Park, because I figured serial killers wouldn’t bother with the entrance fee, and I curled up in the backseat with the only protection I had: A ball peen hammer, and a teddy bear.
Yes, I carried a teddy bear with me on my swashbuckling Jack Kerouac adventure. It was a gift from my high school boyfriend, and it reminded me of being loved, and I had dragged it along the ground of the previous decade, across college and my first career and various romantic disappointments. That bear was a kind of battle armor, even as it squished up against my face