An Introduction

The Long Road Home was meant to be a book title. It was a daydream that sustained and entertained me for the two years I worked as an English teacher in a hot, dusty, smalltown lyceé on the west coast of Madagascar. The idea was to make it all the way home, from Antananarivo to Louisville, entirely overland. I’m honestly not sure this is even possible. Madagascar being the island that it is, the journey would require at least one long and dubious ocean voyage just to reach the land mass that is Africa, Asia, and Europe. From there, I would still be left to ponder the much more difficult question about how to get from that giant stretch of land to the one that I call home, America (for anywhere at all would do, on either continent, from Barrow in the North to Tierra del Fuego in the South).

It’s something of a moot point now anyway. I was evacuated from Madagascar in April of 2002 after a disputed presidential election turned violent. For the subsequent two weeks I was treated to the Mayfair Holiday Inn in a posh suburb of Nairobi, compliments of the government of the United States. A friend of mine, hearing of the evacuation, sent me an email that I received poolside at the hotel. He asked if I wanted to join him that summer for a long road trip across North America. I was tired and somewhat defeated after the evacuation. I was also starting to enjoy the luxuries of life at the Holiday Inn. A summer drive across the states sounded much easier than an unknown and indefinite trek across the world. I flew directly home from Nairobi in May of 2002.

I still sometimes dream of making that long overland journey from one side of the earth to the other, but to do so now I would first have to return to Madagascar from wherever I happen to be. This detour would almost certainly take me further from home before I could then begin the long trek back in the direction from which I came. My eponymous book title would seem somewhat artificial to me if my long road home begins by aiming directly away from my home. I liked it much better when I was living almost as far from Kentucky as geographically possible such that the road, in any direction, would necessarily be circling me back from where I came and thus back to my home.

Yet I am resurrecting The Long Road Home, with a slightly altered meaning, as the title of this website. As a book, I was thinking about a very direct and immediate trek home. This website is taking a more longterm and expansive approach. For perhaps the first time ever, I have no concrete plans to return to Louisville anytime soon. However, I know that I can never actually leave Louisville. It will always be with me wherever I go. In 2006, I was in northern Ethiopia, not far from the border with Eritrea, on the first Saturday in May. This is a sacred day in Kentucky, one which I always try to celebrate. Horses had to be improvised, but we were able to stage the first (and sadly, probably the last) Kentucky Camel Derby of Sheraro. This is what I mean by taking your home with you when you travel.

I also know that wherever I wonder in the meantime, I will eventually be aiming myself back to Kentucky. It’s the nature of living on a sphere: a step away from home is, at the same time, a step back towards home – if, that is, you’re taking the long road.