I am accustomed to drama and flight, not the slow swaying pace of grunting oxen and mumbling men brandishing switches like swords. How I miss the ships, which for too few years carried me on bright and dangerous adventures in the sparkling waters far to the south of this mosquito infested trail. The charms of the Caribbean Sea are never more beautiful than they are in the memory of the so-called landed gentry. The thick and loamy scent of flanking forests and the stink of fresh manure make me long for the surf and salty spray of the sea and the warm floral scents of island breezes.
And yet, even as I suffer my way forward in this new and secretive life, I know that if this is hard on me, it must be nearly unfathomable for my husband, a sailor long before I joined him.
I had often considered keeping a diary of sorts while at sea. But the thought my descendants might someday stumble upon my writings and believe me to be arrogant because I felt my story important enough to tell... It is said “Pride goeth before the fall.” I have never wished to fall, only to soar. So I stayed my hand and kept my quill quiet. Even when most tempted to reflect upon a day’s adventures, I kept still, knowing the danger if the true reasons for my actions were ever found out. I have long danced along a double edged blade, barely keeping from slicing myself apart at the hands of my enemies as I am one thing and act the part of another.
Ironically it is only now that I might be my true self, and yet, society has again bound my hands. Only one other soul knows the truth of my adventuring, and I keep him closer than my shadow. Even now, as I write, he dozes with his head in my lap.
Through these simple words I write, I will endeavor to shine the light of truth upon the misguided assumptions and multitude of speculations people have already made about my previous lifestyle and my own self. I will most readily admit that I did make some unfortunate choices. My youth may be best described as misspent. Nearly wasted if you ask those in authority. But every moment shaped into what I am today. An indomitable woman.
There were tragic mistakes and unforeseen consequences because of my impulsive nature. The plantation fire, my marriage to James... My self-centeredness and youthful naivete caused me to burn more bridges than I suffered to build. I was, if not misguided and somewhat troubled, certainly guilty of being young.
History will not remember me fondly, and that is the right granted those who debate the usefulness of their fellow human beings and attempt to find meaning and order amidst past circumstance. Historians and those who write policy, remembering with their own taint and color and speculating on the rest the past we few lived may well vilify me. But there are issues and circumstances few know of that shaped me, making me into an arsonist, rebel, pirate and simple thief—and something far greater than the parts of the whole simply combined. Even with all of those labels, I find the one that fits the best is that of “American.”
I was very nearly born here. Just a child when I made the ocean crossing, my most formative years were lived in the strange realm somehow between the ruling crown, the society I was expected to be a contributing member of, the American natives, the Africans and the pirates. So, I have always walked the edge. I have been a woman—lover, wife and mother-- and yet dressed and lived as a man to be more independent until my daring set me free from the last of my societal conventions.
In a world dominated by men, it is we women who must work behind the scenes whenever necessary to improve our own lot and the lives of those who depend on us. Working in the shadows must only make us hungrier for the light. We must strive to demonstrate our competence and capabilities. Can we be weapon-wielding women capable of defending ourselves and all we have worked for? Yes! Can we set down the sword and still pick up our stitching, being the gentle and wise matron of a household? Yes! As women we may be whatever we aspire to be. We are only constrained by the limits of our own imagination and the company we keep. For myself and my family, I seek the western frontier where there is greater freedom for bright and daring women with the courage to be all that they can imagine being.
For I am, irregardless of name and association, at my heart, and always shall be, Anne Bonny, adventurer. If you must question anything about me, question not my intent, but rather my basest and beggaring beginnings. Let all who read this know that no matter your start in life, the rest is up to you. You are the only one capable of placing limits on yourself and your future.
Sincerely,Ann C. Bonny, 1722
Hope it was enjoyable--Yes, I'll be twisting history to meet my odd vision of what it could have been...
PS- poll on interesting cities near the page's bottom...Please mark your opinion. :-)