Friday, January 13, 2012

Pirates of the Loxahatchee

You know that Johnny Depp isn’t a real pirate, right? But he certainly plays the part in a way that feeds my fantasy of clever whimsy and a disregard for customarily approved behavior. He is the beautiful and unconventional bad boy that women are undeniably drawn to. I stayed in a relationship for over 17 years because on our first date he promised to show me where the bodies were buried. But even if you haven’t succumbed to these obviously dangerous and at least slightly unhealthy emotional attachments, I’m sure you still understand the attraction. It doesn’t always turn out bad. Sometimes it’s a risk worth taking and sometimes it’s not a risk at all. You can even blame it on destiny sometimes.  

Even the nerdiest guys I ever dated and/or married were guys who managed to hook me with their enjoyment of “coloring outside the lines” in some fashion. While it didn’t always turn out well, I have no regrets. I suppose I’m a bit of a pirate myself. I tend to think of myself as more of a gypsy after being labeled such many years ago. I stopped moving and changing so much after that. My son lived in eleven different homes by the time he was 10 years old. My daughter who was born when he was 14 has lived in the same place her entire life of almost sixteen years. Sometimes I wonder if I changed how I lived and behaved for the right reasons and if I am better for making those changes. Is it possible I lost a bit of myself? I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure I brought all of my previous experience with me and it is present in everything I do in my current somewhat low key existence.

So picture this. It was first day of school at Jupiter elementary. It’s hard to explain how important this day was. I don’t remember the first day of first grade hardly at all, but my first day at Jupiter in Mr Buglione’s class was one of those pivotal moments. I had wished to be there. I had dreamed of living in this place. I don’t care if anyone believes me, because I know it is true with my everything. I would be able to become myself there. I would define my life there. I was home. Which didn’t mean I’d stay there, but it was the place that I’d take with me wherever life and adventure led me. In Jupiter I felt loved and accepted. 

I didn’t move from far very away geographically but the culture of Riviera Beach was ironically like being on a different planet. In Jupiter there weren’t just people. There were characters. Everyone knew each other and every person had a definite  role. It was like living in a novel or seeing a Norman Rockwell painting come to life. I had been a depressed and introspective child prone to night terrors and emotional outbursts. I was terribly unpopular in school and was made fun of mercilessly. I talked “baby talk” and spoke very softly. I was painfully shy unless I had gotten to know you quite well. So sometime between the age of nine and ten I began praying for a chance to start over. I just knew that if I could somehow be transported to where no one knew me, I would be happy for the rest of my life. It was a sort of pact I made with God. 

So by divine intervention I arrived that first day of school at Jupiter Elementary in Mr Buglione’s portable classroom. There was the good girl and the nerdy guy and every other cliche you can imagine. We were like the cast of every coming of age movie ever made. There was even a guy who dissected a frog and closed him back up several times. Mr Buglione encouraged him to bring his patient in so we could all observe. Sadly, on the day of the frog operation the patient didn’t survive. But we did get a terrific observation of live working organs that very similarly correlate to our own. The eleven year old veterinarian was holding the lung up so we could see the heart pumping and was going to close him up and then revive him, when the razor blade slipped and the lung just went flat and there was no way to save him.

I doubt I would have enjoyed that experience if I had not moved to Jupiter. Because there I wasn’t the shy uncomfortable friendless kid since first grade. Nope, at Jupiter in sixth grade I was the cute new girl who could pick her own best friend. I had three pairs of Bass Weejuns and two mohair sweaters. I was ready to be confident and popular. By the time I graduated from Jupiter High school I would have more best friends than I can count. They each deserve their own story and that is why I will never have to stop writing. But this is  about the pirates. My attraction to pirates.

Oddly enough it started that day in 1966. I met the first three dimensional pirate I would know. He was the boy who was loudest and most likely to say something inappropriate. He was not the best student and he wasn’t always encouraged when he did speak up, but he had a booming voice and he never backed down and he wouldn’t leave anything unsaid. He was the first bad boy / Pirate type I had ever met or been aware of. This guy was rough and tumble but completely uninhibited about the way he stumbled his way among the more mannerly and gracious of our classmates. I can’t say that I kept in touch with many of my classmates and rarely consider how they may have lived their lives or chased their dreams.

But when Grant Gibson posted a picture on Face Book of sailboats that he shot with his cell phone, I knew I needed the picture. I knew I had a story about that image. I had no idea that it would be a story about a pirate that grew into the man he was meant to become. He became a man who is never afraid to speak up. He speaks his mind and shares his truth and even though he’s a bit rough around the edges he is true to his own character. He married a Jupiter girl; one of my many best friends baby sister. He loves his family and his home town. Just like we all do. Thanks for permission to share the photo. Oh, and thanks for being my first pirate.  :P                                  


  1. I love this is your best yet!!!

  2. Thanks. Don't you think I could use some poetry around here?

  3. Awesome story Patti. I love reading your work.

  4. Glad to see you here Jody. I'm sure you remember similar experiences. :P

  5. There are certain time for self reflection.

  6. Yes. There are. Thanks for stopping by. :P

  7. Very nice! I understand Steinbeck better.

  8. Nex, you understand EVERYONE better. ;)

  9. Would that it were true. You are really good. Very very best wishes. :))
    (I'm working on the double chin.)

  10. I love your writing, p. You have a wonderful "voice." crystal clear with just the right touch of mystery. Your only problem is that you don't write often enough. And give us a heads up on facebook when you do.

  11. that guy is so lucky to have a person so kind you. know pirates are sometimes misunderstood as bad but you know things need to be done you can read lost soul's true storys at it will be a start to bitter end.I so swair that all is true.cause that should set me free!

    1. Lost souls can be found. Keep writing, my friend.