Ahoy mateys! Arrrrr!

If it wasn't already evident I, we, did not have a "normal" childhood.
While other children were playing with their new store-bought toys- their toys of the latest and most popular characters- we were in the backyard with shovels, dirt, bicycles with no tires and anything else we could find.
One of my personal favorite games to play was Pirates. Every now and then it would start to rain. This was not your every day rain. Rain that replenished the Earth. Rain you could smell coming from miles and hours away. Rain that made the dirt smell like rich soil. Rain that made the grass smell like life.
We craved days like this. On these days we found a new sense of excitement and ran outside gathering every peice of scrap wood from old fences and god knows where else. We scrambled before the "storm" hit to make a Pirate ship.
The rain would start and suddenly we were amongst the high seas- a storm raging, and we were deperately trying to survive.
I was the captain- always. My need for control was great and I thrived and fed off it especially in this game. Using an old bicycle tire as a helm I brought us through the waves.
Every now and then one of the "crew" (usually one ofmy 5 sisters) would get blown overboard and another member of our crew would jump off to save them and swim back to our ship.
I loved these days. Even now when rain like that comes I have to take a moment to smell the beauty of it and an excitement comes over me. 
On days when it wasn't raining- which was quite a few- we would occasionally play indoors. Our games, for some reason, most of the time involved animals.
Four of us would get into a corner of the living room. The referee (otherwise known as Diana who did not want to wrestle) would yell GO! and we- each having picked the animal he or she was representing would tear out of our "cages" and attack!
This was a much needed game. 10 people living in a smaller house. 8 children all wanting individual attention. Pent up anger and frustration all came out in this game. It was our Fight Club and we loved it. Sweaty wild animals tearing at each other- what could be better?!
Though, when we weren't playing pirates, trying to kill each other or survive we would often explore. Oh we loved to explore. Not more than 3 days would go by with out someone suggesting we go dig for buried treasure.
Out to the backyard we ran to the same spot we always dug for treasure. Under the Mulberry tree where no grass grew we split into teams. First we'd all start digging. When the hole got big enough and deep enough a couple of us would hop down inside scooping out the loose dirt and digging deeper; the rest stayed on top digging wider. I'm not sure why we kept digging in the same spot hoping to find... something. Anything.
One time we hit a tree branch and for a moment we were overwhelmed with excitement at the possibility that it could be dinosaur bone.
We also had prime spots where we just *knew* treasure was hidden and burried but could not get into.
The closet in our brother Barry's room. The wood planks just seemed "off." as though the house didn't add up and if we could just break through that bit of wall we'd find wonders from long ago.
The square of cement on the back patio. Everywhere else was smooth and neat. This was like a door of cement with no handle. We tried everything to pry it up. Even a crow bar- but our imp like child bodies couldn't budge it.
I'm not sure about the others- but to me the possibility of something better, something hidden, something secret was in a way the most exciting thing to me as a child.
I'd often have day dreams about a wealthy older couple asking mom and dad if they could adopt us- and we'd be whisked away to their mansion and given every material luxery. Including name brand sugary snacks!
We never found any treasure- looking back though I realize we gained so much more. A bond with each other that goes deeper than blood. In exploring our surroundings we were building relationships that would shape our lives and carry us into adulthood.


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