I grew up in West Orange, New Jersey. My mom was a school teacher, my dad a truck driver and my older brother was my best friend. And although my family was loud and seemed to yell a lot (in that Italian Jersey kind of way), we all loved each other very much. We ate pasta with a read sauce 6 nights a week. My mom always smelled of sweet perfume and Wet and Wild powder pink lipstick. And my dad always had a tinge of gasoline from his truck on his collar. We were a normal family.
And then it all changed.
Due to a series of family illnesses, I became a pretty messed up kid. I dealt with my hurt and pain through eating. Around 10, I became very overweight and from the ages of 11-14, I got into A LOT of trouble with fights and bad grades. By the time I was heading into high school, my parents knew I was headed in the wrong direction. So, they intervened.
They took on some extra debt to get me into the esteemed Newark Academy, my version of Meadowbrook Academy. I was convinced they were ruining my life. But then, on the first day of school, I met Kevin and Danielle (my Mervin and Annie). We all had braces and were so awkward. From that moment on we became best friends. And life started to feel hopeful again.
There is actually a reservoir behind Newark Academy. I had the genius idea that Kevin, Danielle and I should raft across it. We all agreed to the plan, bought a raft and provisions and one day after school , we embarked on our high seas adventure.
But, we never made it! A security guard called out, “Hey, you kids! Get away
from there!” We ran for it, leaving the cinnamon pretzels behind.
I always wondered what would have happened if we had taken that adventure. What would we have talked about? What secrets would we have shared? That one “lost” moment is what inspired me to write this book.
It means a lot to me if you’ve read about my life this far. The one thing I’ve learned is that you are never as alone as you may feel. There are people all around you who want to help. I know it might not feel that way right now. But trust me, reach out and someone will reach back.
This happened for me when I made a connection with Kevin and Danielle. Through friendship and help from others I made my way to a happy life. I now live in both LA and New York, write for TV shows and enjoy chasing my two-year-old daughter through her daily antics.
I wish you many adventures with great friends and crazy, new experiences! Life is worth living. So go be great and live it.