The New Seven Mile Bridge is in the middle of the Keys, a long, drab causeway connecting the thick mangrove scrub of Bahia Honda State Park with the town of Marathon. On the Marathon side, the asphalt of a parking lot shimmers under the blistering midday sun. The lot allows fishermen access to a severed span of the Old Seven Mile Bridge, a mess of rusting I-beams and coarse 1920s concrete that nobody bothered to take down when the New Seven Mile Bridge was finished. At a few minutes after noon, the lot is empty except for a white convertible gleaming like a bar of wet soap. An older woman walks around the bulbous machine, pausing, staring, taking a few steps to the side and repeating the process. She wears a broad-brimmed hat the color of mint ice cream over her closely cropped silver hair and large, dark glasses obscure her eyes. She looks athletic and well composed—one of those people who makes aging look infuriatingly easy and graceful. If she was smiling, her smile would make a perfect illustration for a billboard selling an "active adult living community." But she is not smiling as she looks furtively over her shoulder and removes her dark glasses. Then bends over the passenger side of the car and adjusts something leaning on the door. She steps backward, looking around again before raising a camera and meticulously framing a picture. Lowering the camera, she sidesteps abruptly as if unsatisfied with her angle, in the process revealing a small, brown teddy bear with a blue hat and clumpy old fur sitting on the door. The camera's synthetic click sounds again as the motorcyclist approaches, startling her. Turning around, she smiles at the biker, a smile that is both sad and apologetic, one the reveals no teeth, one that says: "I know this looks crazy... and you'll never understand why it's not."
Freeman looks like the kind of guy you would cast as the taciturn hero of a medieval movie, thin and towering with a long blonde pony tail and a face akin to Lee Marvin's. He is in the Everglades today and will be in the Keys tomorrow unless the hot Danish girls call him from Cancun, in which case he will fly there. Yesterday he was in Cuba, his plan to raft from the island to Florida foiled by local authorities who caught him 30 miles offshore. Before that he was wandering the Caribbean for two months, walking through knee-deep mud between Haiti and the Dominican Republic and staying with powerful criminals in Jamaica. And before that... his story stretches back over twelve years of incessant traveling. He hasn't lived in the same place for more than three months since he was eighteen, when a short backpacking trip to Europe inadvertently turned into a lifestyle.
Freeman works part time as a freelance guide for major tour companies, leading groups of "adventurous" travelers through most of the US and Canada. The rest of his time is spent traveling. He just turned 30 and he has already been to 63 countries. He is drawn to coups, danger zones, places that give him a buzz. Having grown sick of leading tourists through synthetic adventures, he travels ever further afield in search of the unscripted and the genuine. He will go to airports and book a flight to a random destination, asking his first cabbie to take him to the worst part of town because, he says, "that's where you meet the most interesting characters." He also believes that it is better to preemptively befriend the people most likely to mug you. He lives low, carrying only a small backpack with a change of clothes, flip-flops, a toothbrush, and deodorant; coupled with his iPhone, those are most of his worldly possessions.
Freeman has never made a difficult choice. He does what he wants, lives completely independently. He has no sense of place, no home, and he doesn't want one. He is transient, as are his relationships. The countries, the experiences, the people, they mostly run together, he admits. Is he running from something? Is he tired? Lonely? No, he swears: "houses are graves of the living."