My days used to be spent on the York River, basking in the sun and swimming in the salty water. Virginia summers were free and glorious, full of potential. One morning, I found a book in my father’s library called Pirates on the Chesapeake; from that morning on, my summer days were filled. I devoured the book, inhaling the research. It told the tales of the men and women that had used the Chesapeake River and its watershed as a hiding place for stolen treasure. I thought that I too could find evidence of pirates in Virginia. It was possible they sailed up the York River, right? Nothing seemed more certain.
From the garage, I grabbed shovels and buckets. I donned an outfit I thought my mother wouldn’t get upset if I destroyed in the historical process of finding pirates. When I found the treasure, she surely couldn’t be mad at me anyways. I roped in my little sister to carry the tools as we crossed the street and walked down the stairs to the private beach. Ellie, my sister and partner in all adventures, started digging. There was no method to our madness. But I remember telling her all that I had learned in the book. I retold swashbuckling stories and reminded her that we could be the ones to find the next pirate treasure trove.
Ellie and I dug from dawn to dusk for weeks. We found a watch, some old coins and seashells enough to fill dozens of buckets. Somewhere along the way, it became less about the treasure and more about the journey with my sister. Every discovery was thrilling, even if it was a penny that was lost the year before. She and I shared this adventure back in time together.
I reflect back on this summer of hunting for pirate treasure as one of my defining moments in time. For the first time, I began to realize my place in history. Girls before me had walked what I had previously thought was my beach. History had occurred here. Ellie and I never did find evidence of pirates, but Pirates on the Chesapeake has a place of honor on my bookshelf now. It serves as a reminder to never give up and to pursue my passions.
As I grew older, my sense of adventure did not diminish. I seek out and welcome adventure wherever I can find it. I encourage each of you to find your own adventures, whether they are looking for lost pirate treasure or scoring the winning soccer goal. Today I find my adventures in museums and at archaeological digs. I don’t search for pirate treasure, but instead I hope to bring stories of girls from the past to light by researching their lives though the artifacts they left behind.
My life’s adventure found me when seven years old. You never know when you will find yours!
Girl Museum Inc.