It started with failure.
I graduated from high school in 1980 and though I was reasonably popular and a good enough athlete to be a starter on both football and baseball teams, I was a poor student. Despite my suspect grades I was still able to get into SUNY Brockport. But a taste for cheap beer and sorry study habits made me a college washout.
By the mid 80's I was going nowhere. I was sharing apartments with friends and working a low-paying job at a local hospital. The one thing I had going for me during this directionless period was I had started reading some hefty literature. Like generations before me I became enamored with books where physical journey led to a higher understanding and state of being: "On The Road," Jack Kerouac, "The Razor's Edge," William Somerset Maugham and "Siddhartha," by Herman Hesse, to name a few.
So taken with books and literature—and failing at everything else—I decided one day I would become a writer. However, this was purely an aspirational goal I kept to myself. I came from a stock of people brought up on white picket fence American pragmatism and like them I was rather fond of eating and having a roof over my head. And, of course, eating and having a stable address was always a dicey proposition for anyone pursuing a life in the arts. I had this other problem too. Though I was reading voraciously, I was still a long way from being literate.
I did go back to school and continued to mine the great literature of the world, but the results were the same—a wash out.
Eventually, I met Donna. Actually, that's not right—Donna and I knew each other in a peripheral kind of way in high school. She was a year ahead of me and our paths didn't intersect much since I was a really cool jock and she was an art student. That's her circa 1979 sporting the Dorthey Hamill haircut and the plate glass eyewear—still, she's so cute.
Donna would graduate from college with a painting degree and move to New York City to live the life of an artist. After an up and down decade without eating much or having a stable address she wanted something more solid so she moved back to Buffalo and got certified to teach art.
Then, one fateful Saturday afternoon in the Buffalo Public Library between some first floor stacks there was a pen on the ground behind a bent over girl looking at something on the bottom shelf. Being magnanimous and hardly noticing the fine architecture of the bent over girl I said, "Excuse me miss, did you drop your pen?"
It was Donna of course, and as they say—the rest is history.
Well, not history in the cliched sense, though we did get married, buy a house and raise three kids. Donna never became an art teacher and I took a blue collar job with a transportation giant which I worked at for nearly three decades. Donna continues to paint and work—she took a job with a bank after staying home with the kids when they were young. As the kids got older and I became more literate my aspirational goal to be a writer did happen. Since 2016 I've put out three books and am the writer and publisher of a satire site called Buffalo Mud.
Along the way, through the triumphs and failures of being married and raising a family the appeal to find that higher place through a physical journey never abandoned me. And Donna, who spent her summers in high school and college as a camp counselor still has a passion for the outdoors and fires, especially fires—check that out here.
So, that's the cliff notes on how we got here to our Ram Promaster van life.
Pull up a chair, make some toast and tea and enjoy the ride as we go mobile.