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When I was a child, my older sister invented a world in the garden. I’m not sure if it was more inspired by Narnia or Terabithia, because to me it seemed to be equal parts of both. It’s strange to think of a lush realm in the midst of the Colorado plains, but she managed it somehow. It was hidden away beneath the shade of a plum tree and walled in by a grape vine, and it was there that she established her domain. During the spring, she would pick flowers from the local greenhouse and plant them in her little corner of the back yard. It was a fantastic spot to spend a hot afternoon. With fresh fruit growing overhead (and around the corner in the main part of our parents’ garden) and water from the hose, you could stay out there for hours.

I never said anything to her then, but I was jealous. I wanted something like that, and she’d taken the best spot in the yard for it. I realize now, though, how important having a space of her own was to her. When we were kids, there were four of us sharing two bedrooms, and it was never easy for any of us to get time to ourselves. If I had the bottom bunk of the beds I shared with our youngest sister, I would hang blankets up to turn it into a fort. When we got a new fridge, I asked to keep the box it came in. Some scissor work and marker drawing later, it sat on the top bunk and turned into a Calvin and Hobbes-esque spaceship. Both of these spaces were mine, despite only being partitions within another room.

We would seek out places where our creativity could thrive. I didn’t realize how essential it was then, but the space we could make for ourselves was critical to us. Our imaginations were fueled by the books we read and heard, and the desire to craft something from our own thoughts moved us forward. Today, my big sister is an architect, and I couldn’t be more proud of her. She went to college and poured herself onto canvas and into sculpture, bringing her imagination into reality. Just like she did in the garden back home, she’s making the world a little more like she dreamed it could be, one small space at a time. It’s an incredible bit of inspiration for me. I may use a keyboard or a pen and paper where she used paint and clay (and now wood, concrete, steel), but I like to think that, at least in some small way, I’m following a part of her path.

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