Why I Would Never Have Survived Pilgrim Life

I always get pensive during the holidays. I think about how fortunate I am. How I love my husband but if he doesn’t start answering my texts, I may kill him. How I’m going to crush it at the next cookie swap. And this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about Pilgrims. Seriously. I admire the Pilgrims who survived the Mayflower’s voyage to the New World, but at the risk of sounding dramatic, I would have preferred being lost at sea to actually having to figure out how to build a life from scratch here. I can barely find my vehicle in the parking lot of Costco; searching for non-poisonous berries in a strange land would definitely do me in.

Just for entertainment’s sake, let’s pretend that it’s 1621 and I am a 30-something English woman who is adventuresome enough to make the dangerous journey across the ocean. Miraculously, I didn’t die of cholera on the way over, but I’m never, ever going to make it as a pilgrim. Let’s be honest: Without modern essentials like the miracle of optometry, I’d be screwed. For that reason and many more, I’d never make it as a pilgrim.


1. I’m pretty much blind, unless I’m wearing glasses or contacts. Even if I had glasses, I’m fairly certain I would have lost them on the voyage over — and let’s face it — no one has the time to lead me around Cape Cod. They’re all too busy trying not to die. I would wind up sitting in a corner, doing some menial task that doesn’t require eyesight like churning butter. Also, you know how they say that if a person loses one of their five senses, the remaining ones will strengthen? That’s a problem, because …

2. Pilgrims stink. I smell everything and everyone and it’s horrible. My sense of smell is my albatross. I literally have to hold my breath when I talk to my family first thing in the morning and my blindness would only amplify this situation. The Pilgrims didn’t have the greatest hygiene, you know. What did they even use for soap? Shudder. What would end up killing me, if I didn’t fall off a cliff by accident (I’m also clumsy), is trying to take a bath in a wild body of water with a strong undercurrent.

3. I’m borderline lazy. I literally called my husband from my cell phone a few minutes ago to ask him to walk into our bedroom from the living room and get our kids out of my personal space. That kind of lackadaisical behavior would never fly on a settlement site. I also lack the fortitude to collect firewood, chop it, start a spark without matches, get a fire going, and boil water SO THAT I COULD HYDRATE MYSELF SAFELY.

4. Hangryness.  I inherited a blood sugar issue that makes me turn into an absolute monster when I’m hungry. Hunger and anger fuse together into a rage commonly known as hangry. I could not pilgrim while hangry.

“John, did you catch a rabbit for dinner?”

“Well, I – “


“I’m trying to tell you –“


“I –“

“GET OUT!!!!!!!”

That’s pretty much how it would go down, and eventually, the other settlers would probably all agree to trade me for corn.

5. Childbirth in the wilderness isn’t my thing. If someone did happen to fall in love with me — a lazy, blind, hangry woman who was basically useless — and we combined our horrible hygiene and made a baby, that would mean that I’d have to give birth in the wilderness. No pain meds. No industrial-sized sanitary pads. No mesh underwear. No thank you.

6. I like Native American style better. I really feel like, if I even made it this far, once I laid eyes on the Native Americans I would have said peace out to the white people. Everything about them is way more interesting and exciting. Their music, food, and shelter are far superior. Maybe the idea of trading me for corn is a pretty good one.

7. Horses scare me. Add in the fact that I can’t see, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. What happens when a blind lady rides a horse? NOTHING GOOD. Again, they would just stick me in a corner with menial tasks, if they hadn’t sold me off already.

8. I’m flighty. Once I got to the New World, I couldn’t just turn around and go back to England. That’s a problem for someone who likes options. It also seems like all the decisions that Pilgrims had to make on the daily were literally life-or-death choices. Talk about pressure.

Luckily, I was born in 1979 and avoided a life of true hardship — and as I happily eat multiple slices of pie this Thanksgiving, I’ll say a prayer of thanks for the hardy women who went before me.

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