Once upon a time in a far-off land called Ohio, I met a guy named Raj. Now, how I became friends (and later partners) with Raj is a whole other story, but his existence is surely an important piece of this one. Early on in our relationship, we learned that we both came with a very cool feature. Some Barbie dolls have hair that changes colors, others come with buttons that make them sing, some even come with dogs that poop. Point being that if Raj and I were Barbie dolls, one of our special features would be speaking in a Russian accent. We’re not sure how it began individually, but once we began speaking in our Russian/Ukraine voices together, we had a very hard time stopping.
Now skip ahead to Raj’s death. One night while adventuring, Raj met a mystical water bender who could smell auras and colors, named Sammi (I promise I’ll explain her powers later). That night Sammi took her friends Jeff “the cornstalk”, Stasia “the undercover badass”, and Raj “the fool”, to a river. This is where Raj drowned – only to be pulled out of the water by Sammi (this is why Raj began calling her a water bender). He was resuscitated and reborn in the Stillwater River. Skip ahead again… For a week now I’ve been hearing about the wondrous Sammi Jojett and her hooligan friends. I am determined to meet and thank her for bringing Raj back (from death). So we met in Yellow Springs, Ohio after an open mic night and she invites me to climb aboard “her” big red van. Raj and my road dog Blue climb in with me. (A road dog is a traveler, usually a fellow dirty kid, who has committed to being your travel partner for an often unknown amount of time.)
Inside the van awaits Stasia and Asia -or Tokerbell because she is the quietest stoner fairy person I’ve met and her voice sounds like little bells. The only person missing is Jeff Rey.
The van takes off to pick up Jeff, who happens to be wearing his ex-girlfriend’s light pink skinny jeans when we arrive. Sammi, Jeff, Stasia, Asia, Raj, Blue and Foot (me – also known as Joce) were the original pirate crew.
Our first expedition: The pirate ship (aka the van) drives to a parking lot outside a small apartment complex. Sammi, also know as The Messiah, leads us towards a giant field of corn. We walk down a terribly overgrown trail covered with sticker bushes, wondering where the hell we are going. Along the trail, Blue says, “I wanna see 700 billion fireflies, exploding from one beehive!” If you spend enough time with me, you’ll quickly learn that I sing all the time; 700 BILLION FIREFLIES EXPLODING FROM ONE BEEHIVE became the chorus for the night.
Finally, the trail opens to a field and some woods. Sammi ensures us this trek into the unknown is worth it. She is correct. Through the trees, we find a huge moonlit meadow. We sing OMs in a giant hollowed tree, called the Happy Tree, stand under the bright full moon, and explore a giant path in the corn. We find a corn corner and see the road in the distance. Once we reach the road, Sammi says it’s time for Wayne Lakes.
At this point, we’ve decided that Sammi knows the cool spots (which is why she is Messiah) and therefore shall be her disciples and follow her. The Russian/Ukraine accent has now begun finding homes in our friends’ mouths; Blue especially can’t seem to get away from it. Back inside the pirate ship again, we arrive at Back Pond and are directed to get out. The moon shines upon a small lake that feels like home. Sammi and I bond after swimming together for 5 1/2 hours. She saves me from the evil lake weeds and the rope swing that lured me into its creepy crawly grasp – another example of her water bending skills. We swim until the sun comes up, and apparently Blue and Jeff became trees throughout the night (I say this because as we finally swim back to land a giant tree bellows at us with a deep voice and a hint of Ukrainian accent saying, “I AM BLUE.” And for a solid 20 minutes, Jeff and Blue were one with the trees). We finally crawl out of the water to get some sun hugs. Here I am hugging Raj, feeling grateful for this adventure and guessing that it must be coming to a close soon.
We begin asking each other if anyone has any obligations that day… nope. Sammi has everyone crawl into the van again because another idea has begun growing in her mind. She absolutely has to take us to Ludlow Falls. On the way, we stop to say hello to some yellow flowers, buy “TWELVE HASH-BROWNS PLEASE” from McDonald’s, and buy a burger from Maid-Rite. At Ludlow Falls there is a cliff. I jump off into sparkly waters and everyone else joins me after wading in. Sammi and I teach Raj how to swim. I teach Asia a little too, but the timid fairy isn’t quite as ready. Blue is a train hopper, so he especially likes the falls because there are railroad tracks submerged deep in the water. A long time ago there was a big earthquake that made the tracks fall in; you can actually seem some of them just barely sticking out of the water.
Last, we head back to Sammi’s home. Somehow, after pulling an all-nighter, we still have one more spot to be shown. We go to Stillwater river, which is down the road from her house. It’s past a big field and some trees. Swimming in the place where Raj drowned just a week ago is, at the least, interesting. By now these strangers that I hopped into the van with have become my friends, maybe even my family. All of a sudden Blue shouts. He pulls something out of the water that looks like a telescope. I can’t tell you how the telescope works but if you ever come across it, you’ll have to tell me what you see. Blue, with one hand on his hip and the other holding the telescope, looked through it and saw pirates!… and pizza.
Anyway, after that, we ate pizza and slept for a very long time. That is the story of how I became a pirate and found my pirate crew. The Ukraine Asshole Pirates went on many more adventures (that I may write about one day – along with Sammi’s aura/color sniffing powers) but we eventually had to return the van to Stasia’s parents. Betsy the big red van will always be our first pirate ship.