This is also the time when I staged a series of disciplinary situations to get kicked off the school bus so I could wander my way to school. Certainly, there were bullies on the bus who were brutal in their daily assaults. But I could have easily dispatched them, as I had done to a few classmates previously. I was, after all, quite a bit bigger than everyone at my school. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to be on the bus. The sensory assault not withstanding, getting off the bus meant having to make my way to the school on my own … about 3 miles away. There was a set of railroad tracks that made the route even more of an adventure. So, it was win-win for me, I was off the bus and walking / biking to school.
In high school, my involvement in sports also supported my wandering. Staying in shape, I got on my bike and hit the streets. Also, having been largely abandoned by the system to a life of academic mediocrity, I took geometry at the local college one summer, allowing me to wander even farther and explore places previously unvisited.
Another summer had me at the Converse All Stars basketball league. This time, I was riding my bike about 20 miles to a distant Community College to play 3 hours of basketball (college courts are bigger than high school courts) only to bike the 20 miles home at the end. Needless to say, engaging my solitary wandering in this way lead to me being in phenomenal physical shape.
This would also appear when I was playing varsity basketball, but also wanting to wrestle. In high school in the US, these sports happen in the same season. I couldn’t play basketball and wrestle at the same time at the same school. So, I got on my bike once again. I snuck out after basketball practice to wrestle at the local Greco club which met at the local college. Again, the 5-mile bike ride through the hills after a full basketball practice only to engage in a full wrestling practice, then bike back the 5 miles lead to me preserving that physique.
Unfortunately, not being aware of the context of these wanderings has led to some rather unfortunate episodes. I wandered off to college after high school, taking the first offer that came my way. My desire to leave home was greater than any advice given to me that it wasn’t a good deal, or that it wouldn’t end well. It didn’t. I wasn’t ready to be fully on my own, but there I was. I even had access to a car. Boy did I ever wander. I wandered so far one Friday that I missed my football game on Saturday. I completely forgot that I was in school to play football and that they owned the rights to my time. The following Monday, my coaches let me know who was in charge. It didn’t happen that way again.
Several injuries, and several unfortunate incidents later, I was wandering north. This time, I was in Santa Rosa, CA. In the care of a dear woman who is still a dear, albeit distant friend, I was completely on my own and able to wander in some incredible spaces. I took every advantage. So great was my desire to explore, and so poor was my health relative to my autistic system, that it took me 4 years to complete the first two years of college.
In Santa Rosa was where I met the mother of my oldest son. In retrospect, she enjoyed the wandering and was keen to join in. An incredibly intelligent and resourceful woman, she was the perfect match at the time, and we willingly joined forces … a rarity for the Solitary type (though Reser does account for this). She had wandered so far away to Santa Rosa and was anxious to get back to where her heart remained, Germany. A year or so later, we had wandered across the width of the US and were exploring western Europe. It was within this space that I experienced the first two autistic shutdowns. They scared us both tremendously. Nothing like that had ever happened to me. The events of the final one, experienced whilst I was living in Germany, caused me to be expelled from the country and invited to not return for 5 years. It was the best thing as I needed help, and that help wasn’t available in it’s rural south.
Back in the US, in and out of the hospital, prior to DMS IV and a proper diagnosis, I was still wandering. I bought a pile of Volkswagen parts that my roommate and I put together into a camping Combi. I now had the platform for some amazing wandering and foraging. Away I went.
A series of low paying and rather menial jobs earned me just enough to explore. I wasn’t interested in riches, I was / am a forager. I had what I needed.
The next phase of my wandering life ties into the memory of my Uncle Sandy. I was invited into employment with the City of Los Angeles to a position very much like that of my venerable relative. First, as a type of communication electrician working independently in support of various operations, I was paid handsomely to work independently in and around the city. Then, when technology was changing rapidly, I was asked to figure out an aspect of digital / multimedia evidence and became one of the founders of the digital / multimedia forensic sciences. Even penned a book (link), dozens of research papers, and thousands of articles.
Being at the forefront of the discipline, and largely writing the curriculum on how to do what I was doing, I was offered opportunities to travel the world to teach those who wanted training in this new science. Away I went. As time progressed, I was invited into private forensic science casework … further enhancing my ability to explore.