“….I took pride in being able to carry my worldly possessions and replace them for less than two hundred dollars if necessary.
To wake up by the side of the road somewhere, light a cigarette, and start pondering the decision of whether to set off north, south, east, or west. . .To be sitting in a New York bar and fall prey to a sudden urge to go to Texas, Montana, or Mexico, and be able to leave in the morning without a care-this was my idea of freedom, this was my definition of success in life….”
The lure of the open road.
Haven’t we all, at one time or another, dreamed of chucking everything and just going, of seeing the world or maybe just the US, of traveling for the sake of traveling? Of going and never looking back.
That’s the lifestyle that Richard Grant experiences and writes about in his new book. Traveling and living with truckers and road tramps and bullriders and RVers he gets a first hand look at the american nomad. He also delves into some of the history of nomadic travel- you know, Indians and whatnot and while interesting it wasn’t the reason I bought the book.
Originally I was drawn to American Nomads precisely because of it’s promise of living vicariously through some of the uniquely free spirits who choose to call the open road home.
I had thought it was a lifestyle I longed for.
I was wrong.
Maybe I’m too much of a homebody, or maybe, as Richard Grant writes, I just don’t have the personality trait that the wanderers share. Whatever it is, I came away from American Nomads feeling inexplicably sad. Sure, there’s a certain romantic allure to being able to do what you want when you want and go where you want whenever you want.
What they don’t tell you in the glossy dream freedom brochure is how to pay for it and from what I read, unless you’re independently wealthy, or retired and RVing on a budget; life on the road is tough. From road tramps dumpster diving and eating road kill to hoboes riding the rails and stuffing puppies in their sleeping bags to keep warm to bullriders guzzling stolen beer while driving hundreds of miles between rodeos and living in their pickups I found myself having big-time second thoughts about this whole nomadic lifestyle thingie.
So while the book didn’t necessarily tarnish the romantic aspect of being a vagabond, (maybe I just need a sponsor before I go hobo), it provided, for me anyway, an insight that tamped down the allure somewhat.
American Nomads is well worth reading, though. Richard Grant’s great.
Next on oceandoggy’s reading list- Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving.