Not feeling at home in Manila illustrates the difficulties I had feeling at home anywhere. Moving about felt more comfortable to me. As my grandfather did (Daddy Carder), I loved to travel. The travel-bug bit me early and was imprinted, perhaps, in my DNA. And there were the images, the images of returning to my hometown after college and not recognizing it (at one point in time Irving Texas was the fastest growing town in America). Where did I belong then? Texas, New Mexico, Maine, Arizona? My son Toby was born in Roswell, famous now for aliens, which makes me wonder how he really feels about where he lives.
In June of 1976, my wife Peg and I with our three-year-old son, in an attempt on my part to continue our nomadic existence, set out from North Anson Maine on bicycles with our sights on reaching a new home somewhere, perhaps Nowhere, in Arizona before winter. That was a fur piece; it took us until November to reach Prescott because we zigzagged around. We were still overloaded; we had not yet learned to travel light. We started out with a piss-poor attitude about our country; but that soon changed. Our story is about that change…having traveled around the world and lived in a number of places along the way, making friends with expatriates and nationalist in many different countries, we had acquired negative feelings about America. What? Yes, Americans drove cars that were too big, big enough to house whole families in some of the places we had been. It had to have been nothing but the truth…the way our county was viewed overseas then, or whatever we heard as we traveled from country to country.
To discover something totally different on our move across the country by bicycle was, to us, astonishing. Because of the reception we received, and perhaps because I had my three-year-old son on the back of my bicycle, we had our preconceived notions shattered, all along the route, our perceptions changed, it came about when people we didn’t know opened their homes and hearts to us. But we were strangers and they took us in. A couple in Bloomington Indiana even left us by ourselves in their home for the evening, while they went to a prearranged engagement. Had we had sticky fingers, we could’ve filled our pockets. Since that move, we haven’t been anti-America.