In 2021, I replied to a request posted on PostSecret, asking for a penpal. After contacting Maria, she enthusiastically accepted me as a penpal, though after she received my first letter, she decided to simply ghost me without any explanation.

I decided to contact Maria, and soon after, she sent me a postcard in the mail, accepting my introduction as a penpal.

My letter to Maria…


June 21, 2021

Dear Maria, It is with great enthusiasm that I write you as my new penpal.  The last time I had a penpal, I was matched with someone through my grade school at age eight, though one might suggest the obvious question of what would be so interesting in the life of an eight year old child that deserves such documentation.

I was born and raised in New York City, and my parents often introduced me to well known and influential people.  I remember being age seven when Charles Kuralt told my father that one day I would become a writer.  My father immediately dismissed this prediction; then at age twelve, my parents introduced me to Allen Ginsberg, who also predicted that I would become a writer.  Allen and I were on a first name basis, and he mentored me on several occasions.

Eventually, my parents sent me to college for emergency medicine.  When September 11th happened, I decided that instead of being a doctor, I would rather continue in emergency service.  So I eventually left college, and continued my career in the fire service, specializing in EMS and Rescue.  I moved up the ranks quicker than most, thorough hard work, dedication, and sheer determination.

So, to answer your question, yes.  I am a successful writer (multi-time published) and photographer. (Getty Images, Canva, etc.),  Though it wasn’t always this way.  I am a career Fire and EMS Lieutenant by trade, having served since 1998.  I have worked in almost every major city in New York State, including the city of Buffalo, New York, New York City / Long Island, Plattsburgh, New York, and finally Albany, New York.  I retired from the fire department in 2018 (age 38!), and in September of 2020, I moved to my forever home in Middletown Springs, Vermont with my girlfriend, Amelia.

I started writing at age eight, and it was around this time that my father gave me my very first camera, a 35mm Canon AE-1 SLR.  To get started in photography, you need two things; an SLR camera, and time…  A lot of time.  I started taking pictures with a manual camera at age eight, but it wasn’t until 2018 that I became a master photographer, and started receiving assignments from Getty Images.

As for traveling, I have traveled the entire eastern seaboard of the United States for my photography and writing projects.  I have been to California numerous times, but didn’t much care for it.  My favorite places include the state of Maine, New York City, and both Austin and San Antonio in Texas.  My photography focuses mostly on old abandoned places that few people think about, and of course, never visit.  My fire department training and experience has provided me adequate training to access and photograph numerous structures, a handful of which are simply massive in scale.  I do a lot of portrait work as well, and occasionally a few landscapes.  The only photography I won’t do again is wedding photography.  I photographed a wedding as a favor for a friend from high school, and I won’t do that ever again.

I simply love it here in Vermont.  The area is quiet, I have my dream house set upon a nice sizable property, and I am highly respected by those who know of my former fire service career.  I keep active through my writing and photography, as well as working with the local volunteer fire departments in my area.  I have been offered jobs in the fire departments here in Vermont, but I’m enjoying retired life, after working up to 80 hours a week for two decades.

Please tell me about you; I’m curious to learn of your life experiences.

Thomas

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