Pirate in a Previous Life

  • April 9, 2015

250px-Forestdale_Baptist_Church,_Forestdale_MAI can still remember my sixth birthday party. At the time, we were living in Sandwich, MA. My dad was the senior pastor of the baptist church. We lived in the parsonage, which was built off the main parking lot behind the church building. But this particular parking lot wasn’t really a parking lot at all–not to a six year-old, anyway. This particular parking lot was a vast and tumultuous seascape with roaring waves and hideous creatures rising from the deep.

Honestly, I forget the details of the party. The cake might have been strawberry? There could have been two or five friends? I assume there must have been a pinata–a party isn’t a party without a pinata. All those details aside, I do remember the theme–the theme of the party was: pirate treasure hunt. The more I think about it, I think my parents must have triggered some psychological obsession with finding treasure.

Mind you, this was before the invention of Pinterest. This was 1994. This was the year Kurt Cobain committed suicide. The same year that Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction were released. (And don’t forget Dumb & Dumber.) This was the year that kicked-off ten consecutive seasons of Friends! Of course, none of this mattered to me at the time… I was six.

Only a few things mattered to me at the time… chocolate, catching pet salamanders, and pretending to be the pink power ranger. My parents took little of this into account when planning my party, but I think everything worked out in hindsight.

I remembered gathering in the living room and my dad produced this crinkled, weathered pirate treasure map. You can imagine the wonder of the two or five six-year-olds gathered in the room. He claimed to have discovered the map while walking the boundaries of our macadam seascape. It really didn’t take much convincing to persuade us into embarking on an epic treasure hunt.

We headed out the door and I remember wearing these ridiculous, folded newspaper pirate hats–I’m sure you know the ones. At the time, I was proud of my pirate hat and feeling quite dapper as I marched after my Dad–the navigator and retired pirate captain. He led us across the sea and into battle with the sea-serpents. Then, we trudged back on shore and paraded through the forest. Eventually we reached the cabin where the ogre lived–and I remember this part most vividly.

My parents had this incredible idea and I have no idea how they managed without Pinterest… yet somehow, but they did. Earlier that day, they closed a glove in the door of the garden shed to appear as though the ogre had closed his hand in the door. Then, my mom used a baby monitor from the house to make these horrific ogre sounds. The whole production was really spectacular, especially for s six-year-old. Looking back on it, I try to imagine my mom standing in the kitchen window making these God-awful noises into the baby monitor.

I’m ashamed to say that I have no memory of the contents of the treasure chest, but I can assure you that we evaded capture from the ogre and reached the elusive X.

I bring you this tale because I’m quite often asked WHY I’ve chosen such an unusual hobby for a female. I’m not offended. I mean, I get it. Some girls knit. Some girls garden. Some girls do yoga, zumba, pilates… I chose to dig through old bottle dumps and swing a metal detector.

Whenever someone asks that inevitable question, I always attribute my treasure-hunting obsession to my teenage years living in New England. But the more I’m asked the question and the more I consider the question, the more I realize that my treasure obsession is older than my teenage years crawling through dumps searching for crocks. I use the term treasure, but I’m not talking about gold doubloons… I’m talking about historical relics and artifacts. I’m talking about that connection with yesterday.

I think that perhaps in some past life, I may have been a pirate.

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