Confession of a Restless Drifter




I have come to believe that there’s something wrong with me that prohibits me from settling down. I’m always of the opinion that somewhere other than where I am would be better. More interesting, fun, emotionally rewarding. I would finally know peace and contentment if only I lived somewhere else.


I don’t know anyone who has drifted as far and wide as I have in these last ten years. Even before I reached the age at which I could draw social security, I was chomping at the bit and trying to find somewhere cheap and interesting to live. In the years since then, I’ve found quite a few such places. They all have their advantages and drawbacks. The places I’m most attracted to make the least sense for someone like me to call home. This is because I’m confusing fantasy with entertainment. The act of really living in a place without electricity, among neighbors who have a third-grade education at best, where the only foreigners who might occasionally come by are just passing through and will be gone again by tomorrow, is not as interesting as it might sound to an impressionable and uncritical ear. “Cool!” a young person of privilege might exclaim.


Thanks to social media, enormous numbers of young people are drifting around the world writing travel blogs and posting pictures to arouse envy in their friends back home. “Wow, you’re really living the dream” posts someone who has a real job and can’t just wander off at will. But are these drifters really doing something noble and brave? Or are they trapped in someone else’s bucket list, playing out a tired fantasy that has no pay-off in the long run?


I’m too long in the tooth to be part of their crowd, or if I am, I’m their eccentric Uncle, the one who never fit in. I turn 69 next month. I think it’s too late for me to change my ways and do a right about face. No University will ever offer me tenure. Neither the MacArthur Foundation nor the National Endowment for the Arts have the least interest in knowing where I hang my hat nowadays.


Nope, this is probably as good as it’s going to get. So it’s got to be good enough.

2 thoughts on “Confession of a Restless Drifter

  1. I bet social media is saving your mental health, eh? The thing in your letter that made me cringe is the thought that there’s no one educated to talk to when it’s clear your’s is the life of the mind. You are living the life of a far flung monk.
    Maybe time for a visit home…?

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