Somewhere among the rolling hills of rural northwest Alabama, a little girl lies on a tattered blanket staring up at the sky. To her left an expanse of evergreen trees sway ever so slightly in the hot summer breeze, filling the air with its crisp scent and the gentle sound of rustling pine needles. Towering above her on the right, the ancient house with its long faded white paint and battered façade casts its long shadow over her. Ah, it must have been glorious in its prime with its long porches and rough black columns. But those days were nothing more than fading memories now and all that remained was the crumbling beauty she loved so dearly, tucked away beneath the cedars and climbing roses. Here, between two of the shaping forces of her life, the girl watches quietly as the clouds slide by above her. She looks for familiar shapes in their ever-changing journey until her mind begins to wander to some unknown day in the future. What does life hold for her? Who will she be? Where will this grand adventure called Life take her?
I dreamed of many things on those sultry summer days as I lay in the backyard of my grandparent’s house. It drove my granny absolutely crazy that I would drag that old blanket back there and lay in the grass among her many flowers. It wasn’t the flowers she was worried about. No, it was the bugs. She hates bugs to this day and was always so worried that I might get stung or bitten while out there daydreaming beneath the pear tree. Truthfully, I probably did a time or two, but I certainly never told her that! To her, the world was filled with fright — every plant poisonous, every bug bite potentially fatal, every animal a threat to life and limb. But to that little girl picking honeysuckle from the vine and running through the corn stalks, the world was full of magic and mystery and adventures waiting to unfold. Imagination shaped my life then, and I suppose, it still shapes it now.
As I’ve sat here over the last several months planning out and dreaming of what I’d like to accomplish with this blog, I’ve struggled immensely with this opening post. My least favorite topic to write about is myself — and that’s coming from someone who was once hired to write 20+ articles about teeth. Obviously, introductions are in order for those of you not familiar with me or my work. And we will certainly get to that. But does that really tell you who I am? Does it tell you why I am? I don’t think it does. So that is why this post begins with an 8-year-old girl, lost in her own head as she usually was. It was between that pine thicket and old house that I was forged, that the foundations for everything I’d ever do or be or become were first laid down. It was where my love for the unknown, the mysterious, and the magical was born. And it is that love that has brought me here, to the beginning of what I hope becomes something truly special.
When I wasn’t lost in my own imagined world beneath the sprawling trees and blisteringly hot southern sun, I was buried beneath a pile of books. One of my fondest memories is of finding a big box overflowing with old books at one of the hundreds of yard sales my mom and granny dragged me to as a kid. Some of the books were falling apart. Some made no sense to my innocent eyes. But there was so many! The man at the yard sale gave me the entire box for $1. I can still recall how excited I was to drag that box into my room that afternoon, looking through each book as I selected its spot on my bookshelf. That simple day stands out so brightly to me, ever after 30+ years. Books were my saviors, my best friends, my ticket out of mundane life when it seemed like there was no escape. I was very lucky to have a mother that also loved books and who never once prevented me from reading whatever caught my fancy. Should she have? Probably once or twice when what caught my fancy were books that turned out a bit too mature for my age. But she never did, and thanks to that I experienced worlds and stories that few other kids (at least back then) ever did.
As I got older, many dreams captured my attention, but most would eventually fade into memory after a short while. All but two. I think I’ve known I wanted to be a writer my entire life. So many stories had filled my life, I guess it was only natural to want to share my own. I wonder now, how many stories and poems have I written and lost over the years? Hundreds, surely. At least a few of those I’m glad to be rid of.
What was the second of those dreams? Well, the only thing I’ve ever loved as much as writing was digging in the dirt, dreaming of lost artifacts and buried treasure. For as long as I can remember ,I have wanted to be an archaeologist. In a perfect world, I would have pursued a career in it. But life is rarely perfect, and even the most vivid of dreams sometimes need to be put aside. At least for a while. It was just a few short months ago that I finally found the outlet for my archaeology dreams. By sheer luck (or perhaps, as I now suspect, by fate), I came across a Facebook post from a museum just an hour or so away. And there it was. My one chance to fulfill a lifelong dream. Pope’s Tavern Archaeology Club has quickly become one of the most profound blessings in my life. And I cannot possibly say enough good things or pretty words about the people I have encountered there. When I say I have found my people and my place in the world, I mean it. There are few places in this world that I have ever truly felt at ease. That old house, and the pit in the yard, called to me. And I have found a home there beneath another set of towering trees.
I’m certain that as this blog grows and evolves, you’ll learn more about me. You’ll learn all the things that I’m passionate about and all the projects that I’m currently working on. I’ll tell you all about my new book, Lilith, that I am just beginning. We’ll talk about hidden goddesses and a sleepy Tavern whose hazy history is just begging to be uncovered. Until then, know that I am simply a person woven together with the yellowed pages of time-worn books, all tied up with strings of words, and sprinkled with a healthy heaping of red Alabama dirt. Thank you, for beginning this journey with me. May it lead us to something magical.