Introduction.

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Since I was a little girl growing up in a sleepy town in the American South, I have been a builder: a builder of dreams, a builder of ideas, a builder of other worlds.  I would write fantastical stories about kings and queens and fairy princesses. I’d build castles in the sand to match the ones in my dreams, only to have them devoured by the hungry waves of time.
My imagination would take me on backyard adventures that would transport me miles and millenia away, all under the protectful gaze of my mother, who stood watching from the kitchen window of our North Carolina home.
At night, hours after I had reluctantly put away my books, shovels, and my collection of rocks that I called ‘jewels’, I would lie awake in bed listening to the sounds of the boats on the water and the waves crashing against the shore. How I longed to be there again.
The soft whispers of the sea that were inaudible over the hum of daily life, became amplified in the quiet of the night. The breeze rolling off the coast carried the ocean to me. It filled my room and my senses. I became the captain of my own ship, and my blankets: my sails.  I would wrap my body around the bedpost as the waves thrashed violently and threatned to throw me overboad into the dark and spinning abyss of my bedroom floor.

When I got older, I dreamed harder, bigger. The classroom felt like a prison to me and I resented anyone who stood in the way of my adventurous mind and creative spirit. I daydreamed through my lessons and skipped classes to explore the woods close to my house. I would spend entire afternoons sitting on thick branches in the treetops where I would write poetry and expressive prose in a tiny notebook and look out over the golden expanse of field that spread infinitely in all directions.  Birds would emerge from the leaves and disappear into the horizon. I would imagine throwing myself over one of their feathered backs, clutching their wings tightly with my hands as we cut through the soft and pillowy clouds that drifted across the early evening sky. I did not know then, in the middle of all my restlessness and wanderlust, where life would one day take me. I did not know that I would sail from my Southern American shores to those of North Africa, where I would find myself standing barefoot at the base of a new, yet indestructable sand castle. One that withstood wind and rain and an ever changing current. And that I would stand on these shores with a baby on my hip, while wrapped in the fabrics and the embrace of a land that I’d come to love as intensely as my own.

I have always been a builder of sand castles.  Sometimes its just a matter of finding the right sand.