I’m a thirty-something writer, struggler, and restless wanderer named Thomas Mark Zuniga — TMZ, if you will.
Or, if you won’t, Tom works too; that’s what most people call me.
I grew up outside Philadelphia where family and belonging and life felt perfect. Like my own personal Eden.
Then I moved to Georgia at 12. And I learned of life beyond Eden.
A quiet kid only made quieter by acne and an 800-mile move from all he’d ever known, I endured bullying and isolation throughout middle school and high school. After graduating with an English degree from the University of Georgia in 2009, I despaired over my direction in life.
A year-and-a-half removed from academia while working the customer service desk at Kmart, I gambled on a cross-country move to southern California despite never having set foot west of the Mississippi.
My four years on the west coast changed my life. I climbed out of introverted isolation, joining a church, getting baptized, and embracing my not-so-hidden passion for writing and a very-much-hidden passion for youth involvement.
For the next several years, I worked with kids academically, recreationally, and therapeutically. I tutored kids of all ages at learning centers, a middle school, and local Starbucks and Panera. I worked at summer camps in Wisconsin and North Carolina. I saddled a pack and worked with troubled youth in the woods, and I returned to indoor heating and air-conditioning while working as a tutor and mentor at a boarding school for teen boys in drug and alcohol recovery.
In 2013, I wrote my first book: a chronicling of my struggles and climb toward redemption.
In 2017, I wrote my second book: the story of my return to the East Coast by way of 48 states, 6 provinces, 26,000 miles, and nine months on the road in search of home.
For the moment, I call home Asheville, North Carolina. Though I’m always prone to wander.
Feel free to contact me and follow me on social media. I’m glad you’re here, and I always enjoy connecting with readers and fellow wanderers.
It’s lonely but lovely out there; won’t you wander with me?