My mother telephoned one day in 2001, said she had been clearing her attic and found a large box of mine, and asked if I wanted it. Curious about its contents, I said I did and drove to her house. Inside a cardboard box were items from my boyhood years: pencil drawings, photographs, report cards, 45-rpm records, baseball cards, and three 3-ring binders filled with notes and stories about a fictional town called Ridgewood and some of the people who lived there.
I was 9 when I fell in love with creating make-believe worlds. They were escapes from boredom when I was unable to leave the house and play with friends. At 13, Ridgewood was a favorite place to go to. I went to it often, recording my visits and turning them into a personal diary. You see, I not only wrote about my adventures, I interacted with my characters, which was an unconventional way of writing but one I enjoyed doing. I grew with my characters and they grew with me. We had good and bad times and everything between.
At high school, teachers tried guiding me toward conventional storytelling. They wanted me to be an anonymous observer. But I resisted. My characters had become my friends and I theirs. They looked forward to seeing me as much as I did them. Time did not stop when I left Ridgewood, to start again upon my return. Their world existed on the same plane as ours.
At 18, I stopped writing my fictional diaries and pursued a career in food service management, which led me to places all over the globe. During my travels, my love for art grew and I became an artist. Art had always been my second passion. Five years later, I married and settled, painted and taught art in my spare time, and raised a family.
When I opened those notebooks in 2001 and read my fictional diaries, I knew I wanted to share them. So follow me, if you will, to the 1970s, to a place called Ridgewood, and the friends I made there.