My name is Zachary Bucholtz. I am a senior-to-be at the University of Michigan, majoring in Screen Arts and Cultures and minoring in Writing.
One thing that people always want to know when you’re introducing yourself is: where are you from? Where do you call home? For me, that’s a difficult question to answer. “Home” is such a fluid term. If home is where I live, then I’m from Ann Arbor, Michigan. That’s where I pay rent, work, and go to school. That’s where my friends are. If home is where your family is, then I suppose you could call Charleston, South Carolina my home. My parents and siblings moved there a couple of years ago and I visit them as often as I can. But if home is where you feel most comfortable and where you have the most memories, my home is Stevensville, Michigan, where I was born and raised.
What does any of this have to do with writing? I’ll tell you. I’m a big believer that you write best what you know. Much of my writing is based on experiences in my life or inspired by people I know. The truth is I have no single “home.” But I do have an awful lot to write about because of the people in my life I love and who love me, and the places we’ve been together and the memories we’ve made. In the minor in writing at Michigan, I was asked to answer a simple question: “why do I write?” In in simplest terms, the answer is this: I write because I have an awful lot to write about.
I was born in Saint Joseph, Michigan on May 24, 1991 and grew up in nearby Stevensville. For most of my life I lived on the same property as my grandparents and a revolving door of other extended family members. My grandparents were immigrants from Italy in 1960 who acquired a large chunk of property now known as The Compound, an homage to the home of the Corleone crime family from The Godfather. It houses their home, which for a time was also my home, the restaurant they opened in 1967 and its on-site banquet facility, the duplex once shared by my parents and I with my aunt and her family, two houses belonging to my mom’s other two siblings and a large yard with a basketball court, soccer field, bocce court, swingset, garden, grape vines, and pear, peach, and plum trees. Adjacent to the property is the house I grew up in and lived in until the end of middle school.
My childhood was as happy and normal as one could hope. I was shy, but lived a good life. My dad taught me how to play baseball in the garage and basketball in the driveway. My mom taught he how to read and how not to make a fool of myself in front of people. We took vacations every year, ate dinner together each night. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my mom reading me bedtime stories (my favorite was a Sesame Street spin-off of Sherlock Holmes) and my dad educating me via syndicated episodes of Gilligan’s Island and I Love Lucy.
My childhood was highlighted by what are still the two greatest days of my life: July 6, 1994, the day my brother, Austin, was born; and May 8, 2000, the day my sister, Bianca, was born.
Starting in seventh grade, my life was a seemingly endless sequence of events that permanently and drastically changed my life. The summer before seventh grade, I began treatment for depression and clinical Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. In eighth grade, my dad moved ahead of us to Chicago for a few months to start a new job. We moved in with my grandparents until school ended, then moved to the Chicago suburb of Munster, Indiana as I started high school. I was a three-sport athlete in high school, a newspaper editor and an honor roll student. But just as had built up a good reputation and resume in my new town, my brother battled his own depression and my family moved back to Stevensville.
In the next year, I was benched by the football coach, ditched by my prom date, found out what failure feels like, and experienced true loneliness for the first time. My dad lost his job and I watched my grandpa die from lung cancer. But anyone who knows me well knows how fondly I look back on that year with my grandpa. I struggled through my freshman year of college, adapting to life away from my family and still grieving the loss of my grandfather. But as Harvey Dent said in The Dark Knight, “the night is always darkest just before dawn.”
My sophomore year, I met the best friends I’ve ever had: Mava, Luke, Monica, Julie, Emily, Loui, and Bethany, and many more who have been such a great influence on me and helped me move on with my life and towards a brighter future.
My parents, Austin, and Bianca are living in Charleston, South Carolina. My mom, after years working in the restaurant industry, is going back to school to get her degree. She is in her sophomore year at the College of Charleston. My dad, in addition to a steady day job, is a drummer in a country band and has also played with local blues and rock musicians. Austin is a junior in high school, a proud and out gay man, and looking to study music in college. He’s also writing and recording an album of his own material. Bianca is in middle school; she’s the first-chair clarinet in her school band and a beautiful dancer.
That’s a bit of who I am. I won’t say much more, letting my work do the talking.